Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Letter: Transmission line concerns

Margaret Moen - The following is a letter I have written to the Minister of Energy, Minister of the Environment and Jason Kenney regarding the latest project proposal for Chapel Rock to Pincher Creek Transmission line that would be of interest to your readers. I would ask that your readers please contact the Minister of Environment, Minister of Energy and the Leader of The United Conservative Party to provide their positions on these issues.

I am writing this letter to notify you that ALTALINK, together with the Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO), is for the third time attempting to needlessly construct a 240kV transmission line close to my home in southwest Alberta. Since there is a provincial election coming next year, I request your timely assistance / opinion on each of the concerns listed.

I live north of Cowley in the Porcupine Hills, some of the most iconic scenery in the world. Referred to as the Crown of the Continent, home to rolling farmland, beautiful native pasture, unbelievable foothills, golden and bald eagles, grizzlies, cougars, Alberta's world-renowned Rocky Mountains, Electric Wind Generation and now, miles of proposed 200-foot steel lattice electric transmission towers.

In 2009 the Alberta Utility Commission (AUC) approved the Need for the Southern Alberta Transmission Reinforcement (SATR) which would have constructed a transmission line from Pincher Creek to Crowsnest Pass. After an enormous amount of research, effort and money, the AUC rightfully halted progress of this because many people like my family were either not notified or even misled by ALTALINK and the AESO.

I am asking for consideration/assistance and your opinion in all the following issues:
  • Ask around and you won't have to look far to find someone knowledgeable on the massive overbuild of Alberta's electricity transmission system. This transmission line is a part of that overbuild. It has been 10 years since the AESO sought approval for the Need for this proposed transmission line. I am asking the AESO to show impacts of not having this multi-million dollar project built when they asked for it. It is not needed and had it been constructed 10 years ago, Albertans would have wasted 10 years of its life cycle - degradation of a multimillion dollar facility, further increasing skyrocketing transmission portions of electricity bills to Alberta ratepayers. Please demand the AUC stop this immediately so the AESO can explain why they asked for this 10 years ago and how its lack of construction has negatively impacted Albertans.
  • I was in favor of deregulating the electric system years ago. In retrospect that was a mistake. Alberta is one of the few jurisdictions remaining that has not reversed deregulation of electricity and Alberta ratepayers continue to pay more. Please review electricity regulation and provide potential solutions, or at a minimum where you stand on regulation of the electric system.
  • The current Government of Alberta is attempting to replace coal-fired generation with wind power. Though admirable, the "all or nothing" attitude and the rush to transition away from fossil fuels will lead to unintended consequences. Building electric generation close to cities removes the need for transmission and isn’t that something to consider during the transition towards renewable energy? Please investigate the removal of coal-fired electric generation in favour of natural gas generation.
  • It is my understanding that all wind generation requires natural gas or coal-fired generation as backup or being at the mercy of other provinces to sell us electricity. So how do our electricity providers intend on providing power when the wind doesn’t blow, or when it's dark? The obvious answer is natural gas generation built close to cities. Please provide your opinion on how Alberta will achieve our climate goals and still provide adequate electricity. I assume we will be bringing that in from other provinces. What will this do to electricity rates?
  • The AUC seems unaware of the AESO's and ALTALINK's recent activities. I called the AUC to make a submission about the unaddressed mailer "Moving Forward" (see attached newsletter) and they seemed unaware of this latest attempt of an improper and unnecessary overbuild as they have not scheduled a Hearing on the matter. In attempting to make this submission to the AUC, no proceeding or mechanism seem available at this time for me to ask the AESO to explain. Please ask the AUC to halt this and create a mechanism for submission related to the AESO's improper activities.
  • While we move away from fossil fuels towards renewables, we must consider the impact of proposals. While the wind generators are growing in number, how are we building the infrastructure to support them? All impacts must be considered. When people think green, they inevitably see a picture of a windmill in their mind, but do they see mile after mile of 200 foot steel lattice transmission towers? Please demand the utility companies consider all impacts of their proposals. There is a below ground D/C alternative which must be used. If the real cost of environmental improvement is wind generation over coal, then below ground is the real cost of transmission for wind generation.
Please reply with answers at your earliest convenience.

I look forward to hearing from you.

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