LETTER: ‘Renewable energy projects and transmission line developments beg for a much bigger conversation’

Participation from all levels, affected by these renewable energy projects, is needed, reader says

It’s important for everyone to consider this: opposition to renewable energy projects and transmission line developments beg for a much bigger conversation about how these projects are approved and constructed.

I was fortunate enough to attend a meeting in Calgary with the AUC (Alberta Utilities Commission) regarding the rewriting of Rule 007 as it pertains to renewable energy projects (wind, solar), substations, battery storage, and transmission lines.

The AUC is looking for input to help them rewrite the rules and regulations which govern such projects.

Of the 43 registered participants, only five were landowners. You don’t have to be a genius to figure out who the rest of the participants were. Visibly absent were Municipalities and Advocacy groups — the voices for agriculture.

I would have expected a more inclusive discussion to have taken place. Ask any MLA or MP about their experience at the legislative level and they will tell you the level of intensity by lobby groups looking to advance their agenda, is overwhelming.

There are over 8,000 mega watts of approved renewable energy projects in Alberta. Most are in the East Central and Southern areas. Legislative bodies in this country do not have a concrete plan regarding the regulations around the approval process.

The more I participate in discussions regarding renewable energy projects the more it is really like the ‘Wild Wild West’. A representative from the Farmers Advocate Office expressed it as putting the cart before the horse.

Participation from all levels, affected by these renewable energy projects, is needed, not only from industry participants. This was not evident at the AUC meeting.

Renewable energy projects need to be used in conjunction with fossil fuel use. Realistically, for eight months of the year we are a cold climate country. There are days when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun does not shine. That’s when we appreciate fossil fuels.

Renewable energy is here to stay, whether you agree or not about the argument of climate change. (It would be great to read an unbiased article on the subject).

If these projects are to be built, they need to be built and built right. We need more regulation—not less, increased scrutiny of applications for approval, and honest, MEANINGFUL consultation with property owners, rather than the pacifying consultations presently allowed to take place.

Mistakes are made in project developments.

The AUC must take a leadership role in addressing such mistakes. All property owners want is for developers to own up to the mistakes made and for AUC to insure such mistakes are addressed and corrected. Again, built it once, build it right!

Planners for transmission line developments need to be more forward thinking.

If renewable energy is “the future”, transmission and distribution line projects must reflect future capacity growth. A drive around Alberta quickly shows the pace of such projects which have underestimated future capacity.

Some of you may have seen a map showing the level of pipeline development in Alberta. We do not need our electrical transmission and distribution system to resemble this map. I must again give a shout out to AltaLink and ATCO who are submitting to the AUC, an application for approval to build a mono pole double circuit structure to be constructed on the proposed CETO project. This allows a one-time construction for additional transmission capacity.

Everyone can make a difference by simply picking up a pen, writing to your legislative member and letting them know what you think. Sitting back and not speaking up is not making a difference. Speak up, so you don’t have to ask, “How did this happen?”

Respectfully submitted,

Brett Penosky

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