ATCO Electric Ltd. received approval from regulators in Alberta for the construction of a proposed $1.6 billion transmission line, which is part of an ambitious plan to expand the province’s electricity grid.
“I want to extend my thanks to the landowners that participated in the process. The decision is the result of three years of hard work and consultation and directly reflects the input that we received throughout the process,” said Sett Policicchio, president of ATCO Electric.
“We look forward to continuing to work together with these landowners and the communities of eastern Alberta as we begin to build this critically important piece of infrastructure for Alberta.”
The Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) recently made a decision to approve Atco Electric Ltd’s application for the construction of the Eastern Alberta Transmission Line (EATL).
They deemed it to be in the public interest.
The 500 kilometre transmission line will extend from the Gibbons area northeast of Edmonton to an area southeast of Calgary near Brooks.
During 13 days of public hearings in Stettler, Forestburg and Camrose in July and August 2012, landowners raised their concerns and Atco made adjustments to about 155 km of the route to enhance environmental protection.
“The commission commends those parties, who decided to participate in the process as the information that was presented at the hearing and through the submissions was valuable in informing the commission about the impacts of the EATL project on individual landowners, groups of landowners, interested stakeholders and the environment,” the AUC said.
“Furthermore, the commission appreciates the participation of landowner groups at the formal hearing which generated a series of additional relevant and specific commitments by Atco Electric.”
The EATL project involves the construction of converter stations at the north and south ends of the new transmission line, as well as related facilities to convert power from alternating-current to direct-current and to connect the new facilities to the Alberta Interconnected Electric System.
The Alberta government decided to suspend the review process and hearings on the EATL and the Western Alberta transmission line in October 2011 as part of an overall review of its approach to critical transmission infrastructure projects.
In December 2011, the government appointed an independent panel of experts, the Critical Transmission Review Committee (CTRC), to review the plans for the transmission lines.
As a result, the CTRC released a report on February 2012, which recommended proceeding as soon as possible with the critical transmission infrastructure.
The Alberta government passed Bill 50 in November 2009.
The newly passed bill created a category called critical transmission infrastructure and increased cabinet’s discretion to plan essential components of the electricity system.
Five amendments were introduced to Bill 50 to clarify the provincial regulator must consider the public interest in the decisions it makes on the location of the critical transmission infrastructure projects.
The amendments provide for the establishment of a cost oversight committee and clarify that projects will be spaced out over time to address cost concerns.
Critics of Bill 50 said the legislation placed limits on public input about plans for the construction of $14 billion to $20 billion in new power lines in the province.
Critics insisted an independent assessment should be undertaken to determine the need for new lines, rather than allowing cabinet to approve projects.
A group called Responsible Electricity Transmission for Albertans argued that these transmission projects are not required and will cause power bills to skyrocket.