AltaLink responds to recent letter to the editor

Monday, March 9, 2015
Pam Kean, Director, Consultation, AltaLink

Recently an editorial* (Accuracy lacking in minutes from AltaLink meetings, February 25, 2015) appeared in your publication and I would like to take the opportunity to respond and clarify AltaLink’s role in Alberta’s electric system and how homeowners’ and landowners’ input is critical to the decisions we make in identifying locations for new transmission lines.

Many people believe that AltaLink decides which transmission projects are needed. This is incorrect.

The need for transmission projects in Alberta is determined by the independent, not-for-profit Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO). A need then requires approval from the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC). In the case of the Castle Rock Ridge to Chapel Rock Transmission Project, the need was approved by the AUC in 2014.

This project is driven by the need to connect clean, green wind energy in southwest Alberta to the electric grid to ensure all Albertans reap the benefits of green energy.

The AESO has directed AltaLink to build the project to satisfy this need. As a public utility, we’re required by law to complete the project.

As an Alberta company, we respect the magnificence of the area in which the project will be built and understand that landowners have concerns about the impact infrastructure development might have on the landscape.

Working together with community members, we believe a solution can be found that makes sense. Some factors taken into account as we identify potential route options include the residential, environmental, visual, agricultural, and electrical impacts of the proposed line and substation. As a regulated utility, we must also consider the cost of the solution to Alberta ratepayers.

In an effort to gather input we have reached out to landowners in the project area. It is early in the process and the right time for stakeholders to get involved, and stay involved, as we move forward. In addition to input received from more than 500 visitors to our interactive feedback sessions, we have received numerous letters from landowners and interest groups, and had many valuable face-to-face meetings with landowners in the area. All of this information has been crucial to our consultation process.

We have participated in large group meetings with landowners to discuss the project. Our meeting summary is meant to act as a general record, at a high level, of main topics discussed during the meeting. We strive to create an accurate record of the meeting and continue to work with community representatives present at the meeting, as we committed to at the time, to ensure the summary presents an accurate reflection of the discussion.

Your input helps guide our decisions, and ultimately, the location of the line. We look forward to continuing the conversation with landowners to ensure that together we find a low impact solution.

Yours truly,
Pam Kean
Director, Consultation

*Editor’s note: for clarification, the item in question that the above is in response to was a letter to the editor, not an editorial.