We Need a Judicial Inquiry
By Joe Anglin
In response to the opinion column story “Don’t believe Morton – new power lines are needed” by Lici Corbella, we say – Where is the proof?
Aside from Corbella’s claim that transmission lines are more efficient than generators, (it like claiming tires are more efficient than motors – the comparison makes no sense), Corbella raises some questions about the AESO that need to be answered.
The controversy over the issue of whether or not we need new transmission lines has always been about the ability of the proponents to prove that these lines are truly needed by Albertans. If these lines are critically needed, why did the AESO do nothing about this for two years? AESO is required by law to submit proof called a “Needs Identification Document (NID)” when they determine a line may be needed? Yet the AESO chose not to submit a NID for two full years while they waited for Bill-50 to pass.
Corbella makes a claim that the AESO is a not-for-profit agency of the province with an independent board of directors, but this is somewhat misleading! AESO’s Board of directors are hired and fired by the Minister of Energy – enough said! Further, David Erickson, president and CEO of AESO, said: "We have no vested interest other than doing the right thing for Albertans." Erickson’s statement contradicts AESO’s 2004 testimony where AESO executives, under oath, admitted that yearend bonuses were based on the approval of a new transmission line that benefitted only AltaLink. This is a potential conflict of interest.
Other claims by Corbella that Alberta has not had a major transmission upgrade since 1989 is also contradicted by AESO’s own December 8, 2010 Stakeholder’s report. This report boasts that there were a total of nine major transmission line upgrades completed in 2010. Furthermore, if it were really true that there were no major transmission upgrades since 1989 -- you might have to wonder what heck has AESO been doing? I mean, why are we paying these people if they haven’t done anything in nearly 22 years?
Corbella claims that the transmission lines are running hot. If the lines are heating up, it is because AESO is deliberately allowing the lines to run hot. There should be an investigation because this is evidence of incompetency. Any electrical system can be run hot. It is one of the functions of the AESO to prevent this from happening. If I understand Corbella correctly, AESO is not doing their job!
Claims that the system is losing $220 million are an example of AESO’s lack of professionalism. System losses are measured in terms of percentage of electricity lost. It is not measured in monetary terms. A normal electricity transmission system loses are between 5% -7% of the electricity transmitted. Alberta’s transmission system has been operating at less than 4% loss. This is hardly a system that is bleeding electricity. It is shameful that engineers at the AESO would present loss figures in fabricated monetary terms. AESO engineers should be held accountable by the Association of Professional Engineers, Geologists, and Geophysicists of Alberta (APEGGA) for engaging in this deceptive practice.
The government changed the law giving the authority to approve the need for a transmission lines to cabinet. Now one its members has come forward an announced that the cabinet has not been telling the public the truth. It is time we had full judicial inquiry into all the contradictory statements made by the AESO and the Alberta government. The testimony given under oath totally contradicts what is being told to the public, and now Lici Corbella says we shouldn’t believe Ted Morton when he tells us that the cabinet may be guilty of lying.