Stelmach defends building of controversial transmission lines

ST. ALBERT — Challenged on the province’s plans to build north-south transmission lines, Premier Ed Stelmach says Alberta needs to get wired soon.

ST. ALBERT — Challenged on the province’s plans to build north-south transmission lines, Premier Ed Stelmach says Alberta needs to get wired soon.

Stelmach responded to tough questions about the controversial power plan at a St. Albert Chamber of Commerce luncheon, saying if the lines aren’t built soon, future generations will suffer.

Questioned about the impact on homeowners of acquiring land for the corridor, the premier says the province won’t back off on difficult decisions.

He says demand is growing about the size of two cities the size of Red Deer every year and some of the transmission lines are 50 years old.

The proposed law has prompted criticism from landowners and opposition parties because if passed it will eliminate the requirement for public hearings, leaving decisions up to politicians.

Calgary-based Enmax has also blasted the plan, saying the lines will cost billions and triple charges on power bills to pay for the new infrastructure.

Stelmach said the province’s energy infrastructure is showing its age, and unless new transmission lines are built, many parts of the province won’t be able to tap into Alberta’s burgeoning green energy sector.

“The need is there and we know we’ve got so much co-generation in the province and we can’t connect it,” he said.

“We’ve got a whole bunch of green energy…we could grow that but we can’t to consumers because the consumer doesn’t live in Pincher Creek.”

He added landowners affected by the transmission lines will be dealt with fairly and quickly but it will be up to the government to determine the needs for transmission lines and the Alberta Utilities Commission to deal with landowner compensation.

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