Bill 50 Fall Out


Over the last two years the Alberta Landowners Council and thousands of you have been working hard to get the word out about the harmful effects of new Alberta Government laws.

Bill 50 Fall Out

You will all recall the many public information meetings, fanouts, letters to the editor, media coverage and even formal written submissions we made about Bill 50 and how the massive transmission line overbuild will impact power rates and our economy.  Despite all of the mounting evidence showing that Bill 50 was going to be a wreck for Alberta, the government ignored the experts and marched forward committing more and more of our money to useless mega-transmission lines.

With all of that in mind, it was a little strange to read the Edmonton Journal last week about what a new government report has found about the impact of the Bill 50 transmission lines on power rates and our economy.  Yes, you guessed it.  Just like we were saying:  the lines will lead to a huge increase in power rates and drive value-added industries out of Alberta.

We have attached the Edmonton Journal article and pasted it below as well as the link:

Also last week, right after the Edmonton Journal exposed the government report confirming what the ALC has been saying all along was true, the government announced that it would put in some cost controls through a ‘competitive procurement process’.  While this sounds good in theory, the Calgary Herald news story attached explains why it is simply too little too late.,%202013-Calgary%20Herald-Power%20line%20projects%20thrown%20open%20to%20competive%20bidding%20process.pdf

But what both of these news stories show is the importance of what the ALC and each of you have been doing.  We kept the issue alive and we kept it in the media in order to pressure the government.

This brings us to the Shaw-Heartland Court of Appeal case.  While we would have preferred to have won in court and stopped all of the Bill 50 lines, we need to remember that one of the goals of launching the appeal was to keep the pressure on the government and to expose the folly of Bill 50 in the media.  We did that.  The Court of Appeal confirmed that Bill 50 meant that the government used its law-making powers to remove all of the checks and balances from the regulatory system.  The court ruled that Bill 50 meant that the Cabinet can approve billions of dollars in transmission lines without doing a needs assessment and without cost controls.  In so doing, we were able to keep the issue in the media which has led to the news stories from last week.


Important Update re: Shaw-Heartland Appeal

Last year, the Alberta Landowners Council felt that it was extremely important to appeal the AUC’s decision to continue with the unneeded Bill 50 Heartland Transmission line.  We also knew that this Appeal would have a direct bearing on the outcome of the EATL and WATL transmission lines (also Bill 50 lines).

Many of you made donations to help fund the Court of Appeal challenge in the Shaw case.  Stuart and Karen Shaw agreed to put their names and faces forward to make the appeal happen.

One of the dangers for anyone who is courageous enough to put their name on appeal papers is that at the end of the process, that person can get stuck with paying “court costs” if the appeal does not succeed.

We told the Shaws that we would not expose them to this risk given that they were doing all Albertans a service by putting their names on the appeal.

To protect them, our lawyer Keith Wilson, waived some of his fees and we set up a contingency fund of $8,000 to cover the estimated court costs in case we lost the appeal.

Well, the cost claims are starting to arrive from the utility companies.  Because of the complexity of the appeal and the lengthy court processes, it appears that the total cost claim may reach $24,000.  Hence, we are making a further appeal for donations to close the gap between our $8,000 contingency fund balance and the amount the Shaws may be exposed to have to pay.

The Shaws represented all of us who wanted to stop this boondoggle, so Alberta Landowners Council is asking for your financial help so that we can protect the Shaws.

We are counting on your donations, big or small.  Thank you.

Donations can be made online, at , or by mailing us a cheque with your donation to:

Alberta Landowners Council

55017 Range Road 262

Sturgeon County, AB

T8T 1A4


 Byline TV Interview

As promised, we have put the Sun Media TV “Byline”  Brian Lilley interview of Keith Wilson up on our website under “videos” or by going to the following link:

Colleen Boddez

Alberta Landowners Council


 Edmonton Journal

Transmission charges set to double, report warns

Residential bills could jump by up to $20 per month

Building two 500-kilovolt north-south power lines in Alberta could increase the transmission “wire” costs from $14 per megawatt-hour in 2011 to about $32 by 2018.

Photograph by: Steve Hockstein , Bloomberg

By Darcy Henton, Calgary Herald February 14, 2013

The cost of constructing transmission lines will more than double the transmission charges on residential electricity bills and could drive some commercial and industrial users out of the province, says a report prepared for the Alberta Utilities Commission.

The report by the industry experts on a transmission cost recovery subcommittee warns that transmission “wire” costs are forecast to increase from $14 per megawatt-hour in 2011 to about $32 by 2018.

While that could boost transmission costs on residential bills $15 to $20 per month, large industries could see their bills jump to several hundred thousand dollars monthly – and that could have an even greater impact on households, says the report.

The subcommittee, chaired by Henry Yip, says higher transmission costs are difficult for some customers to absorb.

“Higher transmission wire costs may result in load customers reducing their dependence on the transmission grid with behind-the-fence (cogeneration) or by relocating outside of Alberta,” the report says. “If this were to occur, it would result in an increased cost burden on the remaining ratepayers.”

Industrial users pay 80 per cent of the cost of transmission in Alberta.

The report is posted on the Alberta Energy website, but the provincial government said it was not prepared or approved on its behalf, nor is it a statement of policy.

Wildrose utilities critic Joe Anglin said the costs of the controversial high-voltage transmission lines will have a much larger impact on residential consumers than the government stated when cabinet approved the lines without a cost analysis or public hearings to determine whether they were necessary.

“What is clear from the report is the government did not tell us the truth or didn’t know the truth,” he said. “They always maintained that the transmission lines were not going to cost that much … nothing more than the cost of a cup of coffee on your monthly bill. Well, that’s not what this report is saying. The report is saying we have to mitigate these costs and we can’t pay them off like we normally do because they are too outrageous.”

Last February, the government’s panel of experts forecast the $3-billion cost of two major 500-kilovolt DC north-south power lines would add about $3 a month for residential consumers and $3.75 per megawatt-hour for industrial consumers.

However, the cost of all critical transmission lines is forecast to top $8 billion and the total planned transmission infrastructure costs top $15 billion.

Alberta Energy spokeswoman Janice Schroeder said the provincial government won’t respond to the report, but it does question the forecast costs.

“As is so often the case with financial information, the data used in the model is based on information available at a particular point in time,” she said in an email. “They should not be considered official forecasts of future costs. The government will not be using the estimates.”

But Sheldon Fulton, a subcommittee member, said the costs were based on a model created by the Alberta Electric System Operator.

“They may not want to use them, but that’s the most recently available estimate as to what the cost impacts will be and it’s all data provided by the Alberta Electric System Operator and the transmission facility operators,” he said. “The rates will go from $8 to $32. It will be a $21 increase per bill.”

Fulton said it was the magnitude of those costs that triggered the formation of the subcommittee to look at options to reduce the impact or spread them out over 40 years since the current system would see the costs heavily front-loaded on today’s ratepayers.

It came up with seven options, including government loans or loan guarantees, but highlighted three that would likely have the largest impact on deferring immediate costs.

The committee endorsed the use of a fixed-price cap as an option, as well as fixed-term deferral account mechanism. It also suggested funds could be drawn from climate change and carbon capture and storage programs to partly finance transmission lines to support wind farms in southern Alberta.

It estimated a rate cap would reduce household bills by $5 monthly, but could cut large industrial monthly bills by as much as $157,000.

Alberta Utilities Commission spokesman Jim Law said the report will be one piece of information the commission will consider when it develops a plan to reduce the immediate impact of the critical transmission projects underway.

“What weight it is given remains to be seen,” he said in an email. “We expect to hear from many interested parties directly once we determine what kind of process we want to use. They will have views of their own and some will undoubtedly want to comment on the report.”

David Gray, former executive director in the office of the province’s Utility Consumers Advocate, said it’s ironic the Alberta Utilities Commission now has to mitigate the costs related to the cabinet decision to proceed with two 500-kilovolt transmission lines against the arguments of a long list of consumer groups and academics who said it was an expensive overbuild that could hurt Alberta businesses.

“The real story here is how did a $750-million transmission line that was necessary become a $3.5 billion make-work project,” he said.

“The discussion around price caps and other means of relocating the costs aren’t going to change the costs very much. You can fudge it a bit but there’s no free lunch.”


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