Responsible Electricity Transmission for Albertans
Opposition to AltaLink’s Western Alberta Transmission Line Continues
The Western Producer reports on concerns recently raised by several interveners at the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) hearing on the controversial Western Alberta Transmission Line (WATL).
One Crossfield-area farmer, Grant Budgeon, estimates nearly 600 landowners will be negatively affected by the WATL. Gary Edward, a Crossfield-area dairy farmer, said any hope of expansion for his farm is dashed if AltaLink’s preferred route crosses over his dairy farm. He says, “The philosophy of corridors is a killer for landowners when trespassing (by utilities) affects people’s ability to make a living. It affects their way of life and I think we need to take another look at it.”
There has been significant controversy over this particular line for many years. In 2007, the (at that time) Alberta Energy and Utilities Board (AEUB) was found guilty of hiring private investigators to illegally spy on landowners opposed to a previously proposed overhead 500kV power line. One of the results of this guilty conviction was the dismantling of the AEUB and the creation of the AUC and the Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB) by the Alberta Government. However, unfortunately nothing has really changed – the AUC continues to approve almost every electricity transmission application brought before it, and the ERCB continues to approve almost every oil, natural gas, tar sands, coal and pipeline development application it receives.
Colleen Boddez, President of the Alberta Landowners Council, says she hopes a case currently before the Alberta Court of Appeal in relation to the AUC’s approval last year of the Heartland Transmission Project will stop all the high voltage power lines legislated by the P.C. Government in Bill 50. That appeal is expected to be heard in September. (RETA also has a Judicial Review in the works against the AUC Heartland decision that will be heard the end of November.)
The decision by the AUC last November to approve the building of an above-ground 500kV Heartland power line with 77m (253 foot) tall towers next to 5,200 homes and many schools, daycares and environmentally sensitive areas has been considered one of the regulatory body’s worst decisions ever.
It’s mind boggling that the Alberta Government, AESO (Alberta Electric System Operator), transmission companies and the AUC don’t seriously consider burying high voltage transmission lines (if they are shown to be necessary) when they run close to people. See RETA’s Fact Sheets for the facts on the many negative impacts of overhead high voltage power lines, and this link for the benefits of burying these lines.