The debate on Bill 50 has centred solely on the concerns of industry. Enmax and the Industrial Power Consumers Coalition Association (IPCCA) claim that the transmission lines may not be needed, and AltaLink, TransCanada, TransAlta, Epcor, the Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO), and Alberta Energy all say that the transmission lines are necessary.
AESO and Minister of Energy Mel Knight both claim that the need for more transmission lines was already determined in 2004, and they want to start building new lines now.
Enmax wants to build more generation closer to demand in Calgary, in an already oversaturated market. AESO’s records reveal that Alberta currently has 35 per cent more generation than it needs.
Enmax cleverly says that new transmission lines may not be needed, knowing full well that building more generation requires upgrading the transmission system, albeit the transmission upgrade would then advantage Enmax, and not its competitors.
No one is guilty of telling the complete truth, and no one is guilty of lying. Sadly the truth is that no one is speaking on behalf of the public’s interest, and this is an odious problem for the public and Alberta’s economy.
Who should we believe?
Records and transcripts of the 2005 EUB hearings reveal that AltaLink’s and AESO’s senior executive pay incentives were linked to the submission and approval of a transmission line for AltaLink. The records also expose the fact that the more AltaLink spends on capital projects, the greater the executive bonuses.
Of course, AltaLink doesn’t actually pay for capital projects; the public is forced to pay!
Complicating matters, both Enmax and Epcor’s dysfunctional monopolies undermine the entire market.
Neither is a crown corporation. They are not private corporations, and they are not public corporations.
What are they? They are whatever they say they are, given the circumstances.
Bill 50 is completely unnecessary. The Alberta Utilities Commission already has the legislative authority to approve any project for any sufficient reason, without public notification, and without holding a hearing.
I can only assume that Knight believes Bill 50 is necessary because the AUC cannot find sufficient reasons to approve these transmission lines with such haste and cavalier disregard for spending the public’s money.