Alberta’s Electricity Transmission Charges Set to Double
A report by the industrial experts on a transmission cost recovery subcommittee prepared for the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) says, “The cost of constructing transmission lines will more than double the transmission charges on residential electricity bills and could drive some commercial and industrial users out of the province” (Calgary Herald).
The report goes on to warn, “Higher transmission wire costs may result in load customers reducing their dependence on the transmission grid with behind-the-fence (cogeneration) or by relocating outside Alberta. If this were to occur, it would result in an increased cost burden on the remaining ratepayers.” Although an Alberta Energy spokeswoman questioned the forecasts of future costs, subcommittee member Sheldon Fulton said the costs were based on a model created by the Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO), and on data provided by the AESO and transmission facility operators such as AltaLink and ATCO Electric.
The Calgary Herald article continues, “David Gray, former executive director in the office of the province’s Utility Consumers Advocate, said its ironic the Alberta Utilities Commission now has to mitigate the costs related to the cabinet decision to proceed with two 500-kilovolt transmission lines against the arguments of a long list of consumer groups and academics who said it was an expensive overbuild that could hurt Alberta businesses.” Many industries, businesses, and consumer groups made similar arguments at the AUC hearing against the building of the Heartland power line.
It appears the chickens are coming home to roost in response to the Alberta P.C. Government’s ill-conceived electricity transmission plans that included draconian legislation (a.k.a. Bill 50) to force the building of specific 500kV lines including the Heartland, Western Alberta and Eastern Alberta high voltage lines.
Joe Anglin, Wildrose utilities critic, said, “What is clear from the report is the government did not tell us the truth or didn’t know the truth. They always maintained that the transmission lines were not going to cost that much…nothing more than the cost of a cup of coffee on your monthly bill. Well, that’s not what this report is saying. The report is saying we have to mitigate these costs and we can’t pay them off like we normally do because they are too outrageous.”