Reader voices electrical generation and transmission concerns

H. Hanlan, Letter to the Editor

Good morning Southern Alberta, Time to wake up and smell the coffee.  The Alberta Government plans for the electrical generation and transmission of power is at best a farce. For now though let’s concentrate on the effects closer to us and our homes and ranches. The line that Alta link is proposing to run through this country will affect every one of us, not just the property owners whose land they will cross.  We are going to pay for a transmission line that will be built on the assumption that multiple wind farms will be built throughout southern Alberta and this multi billion dollar line will be required to collect and transport this energy. To where? Think export to California and you will be closer to the truth than any politician will admit.  In May of 2010 Trans Alta applied for permission to export 48,000 MW.H per day. In July of the same year permission was granted. In 2010 Alberta’s daily average usage was 7,984 MW.H. So the plan to export nearly 7 times the power we Albertans require will require increased transmission capacity. Are you willing to pay for this?? I’m not. Presenting false fears of blackouts and shortages to justify these new lines is unacceptable to me.

Take a drive down Highway 810 south of the Pincher Creek-Macleod highway, or through any other high density wind generator area.  Then ask yourself if you really want to see more of this spread through the rest of the south.  I certainly don’t. I don’t want to subsidize the power generated by the wind to line the pockets of major companies. I don’t want to see our lovely country through wires and turning (or not turning) props. I would classify these wind towers as a blight on the land with a pollution value exceeding that of other generation methods. Add to that miles and miles of enormous transmission towers winding their way southward, then east, then back north. Miles of excess line that we will be forced to pay for.

Power loss on transmission lines runs 3% up to 7% based on the size and length of the line. Alta Link in 2010 estimated this loss at $70 million a year. Stelmach, in 2009 quoted $250 million and an M.L.A in 2010 quoted $350 million. Kind of makes you wonder if anyone really knows what the truth is doesn’t it???  80% of the power used in Alberta is used by industrial and commercial operations.  Can you really see southern Alberta becoming a large hub of industry??  Not likely!!  So wouldn’t it make more sense to generate power closer to the major users??  We have this vast surplus of natural gas in this province. It is clean burning and very cheap. Would a plant the size of Sheerness located on a section or two of land in the industrial area of the province not be a better idea than subsidizing the erection of hundreds and hundreds more wind towers and hundreds of miles of transmission towers throughout our homeland?

I am not an opponent of green energy however, it appears that wind power is not an economically viable commodity and to subsidize it, then add increased transmission costs to the users for miles of unnecessary lines at the expense of our beautiful landscape is not acceptable. Remember other power sources are necessary for the days the wind is over or under speed. To feed a fluctuating amount of power into a grid must be a nightmare. (more costs?)

Opponents will argue that the increasing population and industrial growth of our province requires this huge proposed electrical grid expansion.  This is not the truth. While the transmission charges and administration charges have increased your bill’s total by huge amounts (transmission charges increased 2009-2010 by 122%) the actual KW.H used has not increased that much. . Since 1996 Alberta’s generating capacity has grown 38% while demand has grown only 21%. Improved appliances, lighting, etc. have kept domestic usage fairly stable. The industrial usage has no doubt increased but if transmission costs and administration cost continue to rise, don’t be surprised when some of these major users install their own generating units or in the worst case, re-locate. We remaining residents will still be paying for the transmission lines.

We are fortunate to live in one of the loveliest parts of Alberta.  The wind, we have to live with, the windmills we do not. Let’s get this foolishness stopped while we still can. Come to the Alta link meetings, write your M.L.A. Ask that the need be proven with some facts not a snow job.

One more thing, do a web search on SNC Lavalin. They own Alta link. That should scare you.

H. Hanlan
Pincher Creek