The future of a controversial power transmission line now rests with the Alberta Utilities Commission.
Officials from AltaLink, the Calgary-based transmission company that plans to build the Western Alberta Transmission Line, announced a formal application was made with the utilities commission on Tuesday.
The proposed 500-volt line would run from the Genesee power generator, about 85 km west of Edmonton to Langdon, just east of Calgary.
AltaLink has spent the past year consulting with people throughout the affected area to determine a preferred route, said Leigh Clarke, senior vice-president of external engagement for the company.
While opponents have questioned the need for such a line, Clarke has responded that it is critical to the reliability of the electricity system.
The Alberta Electrical System Operator has already established a need for the line, Clarke said on Wednesday.
“They have studied the question. The facts are the facts. We’ve got a transmission system that is well over 30 years old. Since we’ve built that transmission system we’ve added a million people and doubled our consumption of electricity and done nothing to the grid. That ‘74 Chev that we’ve been running needs some help.”
Some people will still question the route, which was chosen through two rounds of public consultation, said Clarke.
He estimated the total costs, including public consultations, at $1.4 billion, which consumers will pay over 40 years. The average cost to a residential power bill will be $1.40 per month, to start once the line is connected, said Clarke.
Now that a formal application has been filed, the commission is planning a public hearing and a series of community meetings to determine how it will proceed with the application.
A series of information sessions was set up with the last one being held this evening in Didsbury to help advise people on how they can participate in the hearing, said utilities commission spokesman Jim Law.
People and groups who can show that they are adversely affected by the line will have three options for participating in the hearing, said Law.
Intervenors can file written submissions with the panel; they can submit their concerns at community meetings that the panel may hold along the proposed route wherever there are enough respondents to warrant such a move; or they can take part in the formal hearing, which may take several weeks.
A date and location for the hearing has not been set. The utilities commission will chose a location that is central to the route, said Law.