AUC Power Line Decision Too Little and Too Late
The AUC (Alberta Utilities Commission) ruled on February 14 the construction of 2 new high voltage power lines to Fort McMurray must be tendered through a competitive bidding process (Calgary Herald), unlike all other high voltage power lines in Alberta which are built by a few transmission companies that operate on an exclusive geographic basis in the province that involves no competitive bidding and no accounting of the costs to build new transmission lines.
Critics who support the change say it’s too little and too late. In fact the decision by the AUC in response to an application by the Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO) appears to be nothing more than an attempt by the electricity operator and regulator to appease the many interveners in the controversial Heartland, Eastern Alberta and Western Alberta transmission line hearings who argued that the contracts to build these lines were simply handed over carte blanche to AltaLink, ATCO Electric and EPCOR on a silver platter. None of these lines involved any accounting of the need for the lines or any accounting of the costs to build them. It was simply a cozy arrangement made between the Alberta P.C. government and the transmission companies, pursuant to the Electric Statutes Amendment Act, 2009 (Bill 50).
NDP Leader Brian Mason said, “This is a case of the PC government closing the barn door once the horses have gone.” Colette Chekerda, Executive Director of Alberta Direct Connect, urged the government to apply the competitive bidding principle to not only 2 projects in the Fort McMurray area, but to all other large transmission projects. However, an Alberta Energy spokesperson said the government has no plan to expand the competitive bidding process to other projects, therefore preferring the status quo untendered and uncompetitive process to continue.