RED DEER, AB (June 11, 2012): The Alberta Utilities Commission’s (AUC) public hearing starting today into a transmission project approved under Bill 50 should be adjourned until the courts decide if the AUC has the authority to overturn the project, Wildrose Utilities Critic Joe Anglin said today.
The Western Alberta Transmission Line – one of five projects approved under the Electric Statutes Amendment Act – is a 347-kilometre 500 kV HVDC line running from the Sunnybrook substation west of Edmonton to the Crossings substation east of Calgary. “Until we know what exactly the AUC can and cannot do in regards to allowing this line to proceed, these hearings should be suspended,” Anglin said. “It would be a gross miscarriage of justice if they were to go ahead today.” Wildrose and other critics of the approved transmission lines – totaling more than $16 billion – have long contended they are an unnecessary overbuild that will cause industrial power bills to skyrocket, drive investment and jobs out of Alberta, and ultimately fall on taxpayers to pay for. It is unclear whether or not the AUC actually has the power to overturn the project, given that Bill 50 gives sole decision-making power for transmission projects to cabinet and given Alberta Court of Appeal Justice Ronald Berger’s recent opinion. On the subject of the AUC’s jurisdiction in relation to approving these projects, Berger wrote, “In my opinion, it is imperative in the interests of certainty and consistency that this court pronounce on the issue.” (Link: Stuart and Karen Shaw and Alberta Utilities Commission, Altalink Management Ltd. and EPCOR Distribution & Transmission Inc., Application for Leave to Appeal) Anglin says all future AUC hearings into Bill 50 projects, including today’s, should be suspended until the Court of Appeal rules on the matter. “The transmission projects approved under Bill 50 never went through an independent needs assessment,” Anglin said. “We need to know if the AUC can hear evidence and make a fair and impartial ruling at these hearings and until we do, the hearings absolutely should not go ahead.”