The Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) has approved AltaLink’s preferred route for the controversial overhead Western Alberta Transmission Line (WATL) from Edmonton to Calgary (Edmonton Journal, Huffington Post Alberta).
The AUC almost always approves transmission companies’ preferred routes, with little regard for what’s in the best public interest and with little regard for landowner and homeowner concerns about the negative health, safety, property value, environmental, tourism, agriculture (crops), livestock, visual, pipeline or future development impacts of massive overhead transmission towers and lines.
The WATL is one of several high voltage transmission lines that the Alberta Government has forced upon Albertans by legislating that the 500kV line must be built. There has been no accounting of the need for this line or the Heartland Transmission Project or the Eastern Alberta Transmission Line, all being constructed pursuant to the Electric Statutes Amendment Act, 2009 (Bill 50), an act which was and continues to be opposed by almost all Albertans.
The many critics of this recent rash of new high voltage power lines have provided data showing the lines are not needed, unless they are going to be used to export electricity to the United States. What has upset Albertans the most about the export of power is that Alberta consumers pay 100% of the electricity infrastructure costs, while the transmission companies reap the profits. Wildrose Utilities Critic, Joe Anglin, has recently been quoted as saying (about the WATL), “We should not be subsidizing industry for this…All the evidence says this is for export. The government has misrepresented this from the start.” There is ample definitive evidence that the Alberta Government and the transmission industry are keen to export electricity to the U.S., even though both insist these new lines are meant only for power transmission within Alberta. Most recently, AltaLink CEO Scott Thon is quoted as saying, “This line is absolutely, 100 per cent for Albertans.” These types of public statements have not fooled Albertans, and RETA will be closely tracking the various applications for electricity export and through which transmission lines this electricity would flow. For example, recently AltaGas has applied for a blanket electricity export permit for permission to export power from all areas of Canada to a variety of markets in the U.S. including: California, Nevada, the midwest, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and the New England states, to name a few.
Quebec-based SNC-Lavalin, which owns 100% of AltaLink, will be conducting the engineering, procurement and construction for the WATL, as is the case for the Heartland Transmission Project currently under construction in the Edmonton and Sherwood Park Greenbelts. SNC-Lavalin is currently in the midst of an international corruption scandal, including the arrest of 2 former SNC executives – Pierre Duhaime (former CEO), and Riadh Ben Aissa (former VP). The ongoing corruption investigation includes allegations of fraud, bribery and money laundering in Canada and abroad. See Making Money by Making Friends.