Stelmach rejects Enmax claim that Alberta doesn’t need new power lines

EDMONTON — Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach is rejecting suggestions by Calgary’s power utility, Enmax, that the province doesn’t need billions of dollars worth of new power transmission lines.

EDMONTON — Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach is rejecting suggestions by Calgary’s power utility, Enmax, that the province doesn’t need billions of dollars worth of new power transmission lines.

Enmax has begun a major campaign against a proposed power corridor between Edmonton and Calgary, arguing that it will add $300 a year to the average consumer power bill.

But Stelmach insisted Thursday that the real cost is closer to $8 per month because 85 per cent of the costs will be born by industrial and commercial users.

“There’s all kinds of numbers being thrown out there,” said Stelmach, who also argued that this is the right time to be building new transmission lines.

“Steel is the cheapest right now, concrete is very cheap, we have people out of work that can build the power lines.”

Enmax argues that there’s simply no need for the transmission lines because the utility plans to build new gas-fired generators to supply electricity to southern Alberta.

But Stelmach said Alberta needs a mix of power sources, including coal, from new generators near Edmonton.

Some of Alberta’s power lines are nearly 40 years old and need replacing because they leak electricity, especially during periods of peak capacity, said the premier.

The power being lost from aging transmission lines is worth about $250 million per year and this will be greatly reduced once new lines are constructed, said Stelmach.