EPCOR and AltaLink announced yesterday that construction of the controversial Heartland Transmission Project is now complete and the line is operating (Edmonton Journal, EPCOR News Release).
RETA has written much about the Heartland line over the past 4 years – on this website and elsewhere. We conducted extensive research and spoke to hundreds of experts regarding the impacts of overhead high voltage power lines. RETA then provided information to the public about the line that EPCOR, AltaLink, the Alberta Government, the Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO) and the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) refused to provide.
We provided information on the negative impacts of the Heartland line on property values, the environment (including bird deaths), health, safety, aesthetics (visual and noise), tourism, livestock and pets, agricultural crops, aircraft and pipelines. As well, RETA provided information on the susceptibility of overhead high voltage lines to storms and other inclement weather, solar storms and terrorism. Information was provided on the draconian legislation passed by the Alberta P.C. Government to streamline the approval of high voltage lines such as the Heartland line.
RETA commissioned Leger Marketing to conduct an unbiased poll of Albertans’ views on high voltage power lines, which indicated overwhelmingly that Albertans are concerned about the many negative impacts of overhead power lines and want them buried whenever they run close to homes, schools and daycare centres. We sponsored many public rallies and town hall meetings to share information with the public that AltaLink and EPCOR refused to share – well over 11,000 people attended these information sessions.
Following extensive discussions with experts, we provided information on the many benefits of burying the Heartland line, or at minimum a portion of the line affecting the most people. Burying the line essentially would have eliminated almost all of the negative impacts of an overhead line.
RETA represented thousands of concerned residents and businesses at the AUC hearing on the Heartland line, presenting volumes and volumes of data and expert testimony to show why the Heartland line should not be built, but if it was built, that it should be buried. And finally, we appealed the AUC’s decision that gave the go-ahead for the Heartland line to be built next to so many people, and we appealed – through a Judicial Review – the Alberta Infrastructure Minister’s approval of the line. Unfortunately, almost all of the information that RETA, the County of Strathcona, City of Edmonton, Homeowners Against Lines Overhead, Sherwood Park Fish and Game Association and many individual homeowners presented was ignored by AltaLink, EPCOR, the Alberta Government, AESO and the AUC.
The Heartland line is the line to nowhere. There are no downstream customers. There were supposed to be 13 and then 9 tar sands upgraders built in the Industrial Heartland, but now there’s only one and it will be co-generating its own electricity just as would any other upgrader that might ever get built there. ATCO Power is building a cleaner gas-powered electricity generator in the Industrial Heartland, so any power that might ever be needed there, over and above what upgraders co-generate, would be provided by ATCO’s generator. So what’s the Heartland line for? It’s being energized to only 15% of its capacity. So why the gigantic 500 kV double circuit monster line? Many have speculated that its primary purpose will be to serve as part of the transmission system that will export electricity to the U.S.; however, the Alberta P.C. Government has promised Albertans that the Heartland line, Western Alberta Transmission Line and Eastern Alberta Transmission Line will not be used for export. Others have suggested we shouldn’t believe anything the P.C. Government says, considering its poor credibility track record on most issues during the past few years.
Even though there are no customers for the Heartland power, all Albertans will be paying for this line for many decades plus an annual guaranteed 9% to AltaLink and EPCOR.
The Heartland line is the biggest and most visible high voltage line anywhere in Alberta. It will be transmitting dirty coal-fired electricity generated at Wabamun. It runs next to 5,280 homes, many businesses, several daycare centres and several schools. Colchester Elementary School was forced to close down because of the line. It traverses numerous designated conservation areas and other natural areas. And…the list goes on.
The Heartland line is one of the biggest mistakes the Alberta P.C. government, AESO and AUC have ever made.