Province should postpone decision to sell AltaLink to foreign company

Lethbridge Herald

By Letter to the Editor on August 25, 2014.

In an attempt to justify the takeover by foreign company, Berkshire Hathaway, a senior executive of AltaLink stated that “While billions of dollars of investment have been required in AltaLink to keep pace with Alberta’s growth, none of this investment has added any debt to the government of Alberta’s balance sheet.” He neglected to point out that these billions of dollars were paid by the customers through the transmission charges included in their monthly electricity bills.

The transmission of electricity is a monopoly; there are no other lines that the customer can choose to use. Since customers are being charged for the capital cost of the lines, they should own the lines. The Alberta Government should enact the Alberta Energy Co-operative Act, which would transfer the ownership of AltaLink to the Alberta Energy Co-operative (AEC) after paying SNC Lavalin the amount they paid for the company, that is, $800 million, not the $3.2 billion Berkshire Hathaway has offered to pay. Customers would own AEC. Payment to SNC Lavalin would be accommodated by a low-interest loan from the Alberta Treasury Branch. The loan would be paid by the transmission charges that are currently being billed to the customers.

The Alberta Government should postpone a decision on whether or not this foreign takeover should be approved until after the next provincial election. The proposed takeover should be debated during the election campaign and possibly a referendum on ownership options for Alberta’s electricity transmission system could be held along with the election.

Len Skowronski

Leader, Alberta Social Credit Party