Alberta Tories will lose their bedrock rural support if they insist on pursuing its transmission line bill, predicts a member of the province’s biggest landowner group.
“If they continue on this route they’ve lost rural Alberta,” said Glenn Norman of the 1,300-strong Pine Lake Surface Rights Action Group. “People will jump to the Wildrose (Alliance) party and they’ve lost rural Alberta altogether.”
The surface rights group came out strongly against Bill 50 this week, condemning it for eroding the property rights of rural landholders.
“We feel this bill is a total destruction of our property rights,” said Norman, who farms about 12 km east of Bowden. “Suddenly we have a government that doesn’t really give a damn about Alberta. All it is about is corporate profits.”
The group is also frustrated that the province has dropped the requirement for needs hearings, which were previously called to examine whether a transmission project was necessary or whether other solutions were preferable.
A hearing would be particularly valuable because Calgary power company Enmax officials have questioned whether there is a need for the line, he said. Senior company executives have called on the province to closely review whether a multibillion transmission line from Edmonton to Calgary is the best option or if instead additional power generation should be created in Southern Alberta to serve that area.
“We’ve got Calgary saying you don’t need this and you’re going to build it anyway? The only reason it’s being built is to ship power to the States and other jurisdictions.”
Norman dismisses the oft-repeated assertions of the government and the Alberta Electric Systems Operator, which oversees the province’s power grid, that the line is needed to keep the lights on in Alberta and has nothing to do with exporting electricity.
As far as the action group is concerned, they and other taxpayers are about to be saddled with paying for expensive transmission lines to boost the profits of power giants. They are also alarmed that landowners could lose the right to appeal government decisions on power lines.
Norman said the group’s members have been encouraged to write to the government and voice their opposition. They would also like to put the energy minister on the hotseat at a future public meeting.