Costs of New High Voltage Power Lines in Alberta Skyrocket
AltaLink has recently increased its cost estimate for building the controversial Western Alberta Transmission Line (WATL) by 14%. The WATL project estimate has increased by a whopping $200 million to $1.65 billion (Marketwired).
In late August, ATCO Electric indicated the costs of its Eastern Alberta Transmission Line (EATL) have increased from $1.6 billion to $1.8 billion (13% increase) (Marketwired).
The WATL and EATL are 2 of several 500kV power lines forced upon Albertans by the Electric Statutes Amendment Act, 2009 (Bill 50), without any opportunity for determining whether the lines are actually necessary. There was no competitive bidding on construction of the lines and no public accounting or monitoring of their costs. No wonder the costs continue to escalate, and no wonder Alberta consumers pay some of the highest electricity costs in the country.
Alberta residents, businesses and industry are becoming increasingly upset that there are essentially no controls or checks on how much Alberta’s private electricity transmission companies spend on building high voltage transmission lines. Alberta power consumers pay 100% of the cost for new transmission infrastructure and the private power companies reap a minimum guaranteed annual 9% on the cost of this infrastructure.
Adding injury to insult, information leaked by WikiLeaks in 2011 strongly suggests these 2 lines will eventually be used to export electricity to the United States – Albertans will pay the infrastructure costs while AltaLink and ATCO will reap the profits. That sounds fair doesn’t it? The Alberta Government and the transmission industry refer to this as the “Alberta Advantage”.