Bill threatens Albertans’ right to be consulted: Anglin

Joe Anglin fears a provincial bill to speed up construction of new power line transmission will erode public consultation.

Joe Anglin fears a provincial bill to speed up construction of new power line transmission will erode public consultation.

He said if the kinds of power line transmission lines that are planned move forward an average person could see their power bill double.

“We’re spending public money and there is absolutely no public input. That is fundamentally wrong. You have to have public input when you’re spending public money,” Anglin said, shortly after speaking at the Alberta Party’s annual general meeting at the Stanford Inn in Red Deer on Saturday. “Bill 50 allows the cabinet to approve (new transmission lines) without any due process.”

Anglin, who is the leader of the Lavesta Area Group, has been fighting the provincial government on consulting with the public about power line transmissions for years now. Anglin, who worked as a transmission engineer for Bell Systems for more than a decade, said he isn’t against transmission lines, but is against people not having access to due process.

Currently to move forward with creating new transmission lines, which carry electricity throughout the province, a plan would have to be submitted to the Alberta Utilities Commission and there are certain rules and regulations governing how the plan could move forward.

Anglin said under Bill 50 — introduced in the legislature in the spring — a plan wouldn’t be submitted to the commission, instead it would go to the minister of energy and there is no criteria for what needs to be in the plan.

He said under the new bill the minister could determine which projects are deemed critical projects and the minister would have the authority to approve any project without the necessity of a regulatory process or a public hearing.

“We do not need Bill 50,” Anglin said. “If this were a necessity and this were urgent we have the procedures in place to take care of this.”

Anglin said the only thing he can surmise is that the new transmission lines aren’t urgent, but that industry wants them created so the electricity can be exported down to the U.S.

But he pointed out it isn’t industry that would be required to pay the full cost of the new lines. Everyone’s power bill has a transmission line fee. Anglin believes the fee could go up substantially if the new transmission lines are created. “Industry will benefit, but we’ll be paying for it,” he said.

The provincial government has said an all-party legislature committee will give companies and the public a chance to give their opinions on Bill 50 during a meeting set for Nov. 4 in Edmonton.

Anglin encouraged people to phone and write to their MLAs and the premier about their concerns about Bill 50.

“The public has to demand that the public’s interest be re-inserted back into the legislation,” Anglin said. “These decisions should be made in the public’s interest…What we have to do is hold our current government accountable.”