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Wednesday, 14 December 2011 11:47

AUC rejects the AltaLink proposal

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Southern Alberta Newspapers
Southern Alberta
Members of the Livingstone Landowners Group are celebrating after the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) turned down a proposal by AltaLink and the Alberta Electric System Operator to build a transmission line in their backyard.

“It’s a positive development but it’s not a total victory. The regulatory system has said, ‘wait a moment, AltaLink and the Alberta Electric System Operator have to play by the rules here,’” said Andrew Nikiforuk, spokesman for the landowners group. “We’re very happy the Alberta Utilities Commission has recognized that there is a place for regulatory accountability.”
AltaLink and AESO had previously received permission to build a transmission line from the Pincher Creek area west to the Crowsnest Pass. The routes proposed by AltaLink veered away from that corridor.
“They proposed something totally different and were proposing a variety of different routes through the Porcupine Hills, the Livingstone Range, the Oldman River Basin, that was never in the original southern Alberta plan,” Nikiforuk said.
The Livingstone Landowners Group (LLG), which represents about 100 area landowners, opposed the routes saying it was not legal because people had not been properly notified and the plan had diverted from the original. In late August, the AUC held a hearing in Pincher Creek to determine if the proposed line routes fit with the original Southern Alberta Transmission Reinforcement initiative.
Nikiforuk said he doesn’t know why those alternate routes were chosen, but the move points to inadequacy in the system.
“I think Alberta’s electrical planning system is broken.
It is a highly controversial system as it is currently set up and supported by legislation that has been questioned by lawyers and economists as dangerous,” he said. “There’s no transparency in the process as we encountered it and that’s what we’re demanding.”
Nigel Douglas, a conservation specialist with the Alberta Wilderness Association, said this is the first time he recalls the AUC has turned down a project.
“It’s a pretty precedent-setting decision,” he said.
“In the past, AltaLink and companies like them have usually got what they want from the regulator. It’s really encouraging to see the regulator doing (its) job.”
Leanne Niblock, manager of communications for AltaLink, said the company needs time to decide how it will proceed in light of the AUC’s ruling.
“AltaLink just received the AUC’s decision and will be going through it to determine its impact on our project and our next steps,” she said.

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