Back to the old way of power line approvals

The Alberta government moved Tuesday to reverse its fast-track process for approving power lines. Energy Minister Ken Hughes introduced a bill in the legislature to return control of approvals for the multibillion-dollar projects to the arm’s-length Alberta Utilities Commission.

EDMONTON — The Alberta government moved Tuesday to reverse its fast-track process for approving power lines.

Energy Minister Ken Hughes introduced a bill in the legislature to return control of approvals for the multibillion-dollar projects to the arm’s-length Alberta Utilities Commission.

“We’ve listened to Albertans and we have responded,” said Hughes.

“This amendment ensures that Albertans have an opportunity to share their perspectives on the need for transmission infrastructure, and that decisions about the construction of future transmission lines will be made by an independent agency.”

The utilities commission ran the approvals process until 2009, when the government of then-premier Ed Stelmach changed the law to give cabinet the right to approve the lines if it deemed the need critical.

Stelmach then ordered up four new power projects, including massive north-south lines running south down each side of the province.

One is AltaLink’s Western Alberta Transmission Line, which will run 350 kilometres from west of Edmonton at Genessee to an area just east of Calgary.

ATCO Electric has the other, which will run 500 km from east of Edmonton down to Brooks.

The cost of both lines is about $3 billion.

Opposition NDP and Wildrose critics said the deal was unfair and unnecessary, arguing it was an insider scheme to allow power to sell the extra electricity at a profit to the United States.

Responding to public concerns, Premier Alison Redford, when she took over last fall, created the independent Critical Transmission Review Committee to determine if the lines really were needed.

In February, committee chairman Brian Heidecker reported there was a need for the power lines to avoid brownouts or other problems in a rapidly expanding provincial economy.

Heidecker also said it was a uniquely critical situation to get the lines approved in a hurry to avoid brown outs or bottlenecks.

but now that they were approved, government should revert to the old system of the utilities commission.

Heidecker also said the cabinet approval was a prudent reaction to an “extraordinary set of circumstances that served its purpose.

“But we and everybody that we spoke to could not see any need to continue with the government having that authority. It was a better system to have it through the AUC.”

The government later approved the extra two lines and agreed to change the approval process, resulting in Hughes Bill 8, the Electric Utilities Amendment Act, on Tuesday.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Beat the heat this summer with pop-up spray parks

Starting next week, spray parks will be popping up in neighbourhoods across… Continue reading

Genetic detectives begin work to trace spread of COVID-19 in Canada

The kinds of genetic technology being used for this project did not exist when SARS hit Canada in 2003

Quebec police continue search for father, one day after missing girls found dead

Bodies were found in a wooded area of Quebec City suburb

11 rafters rescued from Red Deer River

Red Deer RCMP rescued a party of 11 river rafters Saturday afternoon… Continue reading

Tuesday marks 20th anniversary of Pine Lake tornado

‘Devastation was apparent’ following F3 tornado killed 12 people on July 14, 2000

QUIZ: Are you ready for a summer road trip?

How much do you really know about roads, motor vehicles and car culture? Take this quiz to find out.

You can’t put a price on memories

Some people would rather buy something than sell something. Some people are… Continue reading

Masks and gloves: Elections Saskatchewan preparing for pandemic election

REGINA — Elections Saskatchewan estimates it will need 400,000 face masks and… Continue reading

Quebec police say they found 2 bodies in St-Apollinaire during search for 2 girls

SAINT-APOLLINAIRE, Que. — Quebec provincial police continue to search for the father… Continue reading

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, NHLPA chief Don Fehr reflect on RTP, CBA deals

Gary Bettman and Don Fehr finally have a chance to catch their… Continue reading

NHL’s road to Edmonton and Toronto featured plenty of obstacles

Since early March, the novel coronavirus has affected almost every decision facing… Continue reading

Florida sets record week for coronavirus deaths

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Florida’s coronavirus death rate rose again Saturday, setting… Continue reading

Trump’s defiant help for Stone adds to tumult in Washington

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s intervention into a criminal case connected to… Continue reading

With debt, deficit numbers out, experts say Liberals need plan for growth

Borrowing will push the federal debt past $1 trillion by the end of the fiscal year

Most Read