Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Are High Voltage Transmission Lines Really Urgent?

The Utilities Consumers Advocate does not think so:

(Rimbey, AB) The Utility Consumers Advocate has released its Transmission Upgrade Discussion Paper today (see attached) prepared by EDC Associates Ltd of Calgary Alberta.

EDC analyzed many different aspects of the Transmission Plan and Bill 50. EDC concluded that much of the data and logic presented by the Alberta Electric Systems Operator (AESO) is unconvincing and overstates the sense of urgency. The report goes on to say that the rhetoric surrounding the reliability debate, can easily be misinterpreted due to vague or revolving references that are only applicable to one specific area of the province.

For example, the access to green wind is solved mostly by increases to the southern grid. It should not be used as part of the justification for the N-S line. In fact, the N-S line may actually encourage more coal fired generation, actually increasing GHG emissions.

EDC summarises in its report, “Bill 50 reduces the strength of the customer’s voice in decisions fully funded by load alone.” [The reference to load, is the rate paying public]

The Lavesta Area Group and the UPTAG groups are now calling upon this government to withdraw Bill 50 and initiate a full public investigation and inquiry into AESO’s past conduct and current failure to comply with its legislative responsibility. The public deserves a full investigation into the AESO’s conduct, not limited to the following reasons:

· In December 2005 it was disclosed that AESO senior executives had a vested financial interest into the submission and approval of 500 KV transmission line that could only benefit AltaLink.

· In May 2007 AESO was linked to spying on the public when the EUB was caught listening in on telephone conversations between landowners and their lawyers.

· In November 2007 the Alberta Court of Appeals vacated AESO’s application decision, to build transmission lines, due to the apprehension of bias.

· In November 2009 the Alberta Utilities Commission has agreed to appoint a board panel to hear evidence that AESO has failed to file a Needs Identification Document, as required by legislation. The complaint alleges that AESO’s non-compliance has misled the government and the public into believing that the “NEED” for more transmission lines has been proven, when in fact it has not!

· Today’s report released by the Utilities Consumers Advocate alleges that the AESO has over-stated the urgency for transmission lines.

For more information Contact
Joe Anglin
(403) 843-3279
(403) 963-0521 cell
Leader, Lavesta Area Group
Greg Troitsky
Chairman, UPTAG
(403) 843-6810

Excerpt of Report from EDC Associates to the Utilities Consumers Advocate
"Bill 50
Finally, the UCA should advocate against the Bill 50 provisions that allow “critical” transmission infrastructure to be built without proper stakeholder involvement and return the duty of adjudicating the need for transmission to the AUC. Over decades, the AUC and regulatory practitioners worldwide have built up a body of process that ensures thorough, scientific, fair and balanced evaluation of complex utility systems. Bill 50 essentially shifts the determination of criticality of need to a non- consultative, ad hoc assessment by the AESO. Bill 50 also reduces the strength of the customer’s voice in decisions fully funded by load. "

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