Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Power Panel Urges Alberta to Build Two More Massive Lines to Cope with Growth: Alberta Needs 2 More Big Power Lines: Panel

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Power Panel Urges Alberta to Build Two More Massive Lines to Cope with Growth: Alberta Needs 2 More Big Power Lines: Panel

Article excerpt

EDMONTON - Alberta needs two more high-voltage power lines and it needs them right now, a government-appointed panel recommended Monday.

Brian Heidecker of the Critical Transmission Review Committee said with Alberta's population and business booming, the lines are a must.

"Alberta has grown by two million people since the last major upgrade to the north-south transmission system," Heidecker told reporters at the legislature.

"Our infrastructure needs to keep pace if we are to be prepared for future population and economic growth."

The cost of the two power lines is about $3 billion. Heidecker says that's about $3 a month on a residential power bill.

"That's about the same as a Starbucks coffee," he said.

"If it isn't worth that much for our kids and our grandkids to have the same opportunities for employment and quality of life here, I'd be surprised if Albertans wouldn't be interested in that kind of a proposal."

The next move will be from provincial Energy Minister Ted Morton, who must decide whether to accept the recommendations and, if so, ask the Alberta Utilities Commission to proceed with the lines.

Morton said he'd respond by the end of the month.

Heidecker's panel was asked two months ago to assess the power requirement projections by the Alberta Electric System Operator to determine if the two lines are needed.

One is AltaLink's Western Alberta Transmission Line. It would see a 500 kilovolt direct current line snake its way 350 kilometres from west of Edmonton at Genessee to an area just east of Calgary.

ATCO Electric is pursuing a similar transmission line that would run 500 km from east of Edmonton down to Brooks.

The lines would double Alberta's current energy capacity.

Critics, including the Wildrose party and the NDP, say the lines are not needed and that the extra capacity, built at taxpayers' expense, would allow power companies to then sell the excess to the U.S. at a profit.

Wildrose critic Paul Hinman said the panel was given the wrong mandate. The panel, he said, should not just have looked at the need for the electricity, but the cost-benefit to the entire system.

"The parameters they were given are wrong," said Hinman. …

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