Most citizens are probably unaware of Bill 50, which is winding its way through the Alberta legislature. That’s because it will only affect you if your property is in the way of a new electrical transmission line. If you are unfortunate enough to be in the way, you will find you will have no recourse, no appeal – in fact no voice at all as to the location of the line or even whether it is needed or not.
Citizens used to have that right but for an incident that annoyed our vindictive provincial government. Many might recall public hearings that were held to determine the route and feasibility of a new transmission line between Calgary and Edmonton. The government oversight agency involved probably figured the public hearings would just be a formality as the project inevitably worked its way forward.
But to their annoyance, individuals and organizations attending the hearings questioned some aspects of the route and its actual need. This citizen audacity so upset the government that they secretly hired private investigators to spy on these citizens. What they actually were supposed to learn remains a mystery. When the incident was exposed it led to the project being derailed.
But no one should underestimate this government’s scorn when their wisdom or methods are challenged by citizens or groups. One only has to remember the provincial government’s sledge hammer approach against the Alberta Beef Producers group when they took away their funding source, all because the ABP didn’t bow down to the agriculture minister’s much maligned livestock industry strategy.
It would seem that if citizens are going to complain, the Alberta government will just take away their right to complain – which is what Bill 50 is designed to do. Once the Bill passes, and it will, thanks to obedient government MLAs, there will be no public hearings allowed on planned new transmission lines in Alberta. In fact the Bill goes further, there does not even have to be a need determined for the line. It’s been estimated that ordinary consumers will see their electrical bills rise by about $200 a year to build and maintain the line. This has caused a major utility to question why the line is needed in the first place. That will matter little if government planning geniuses decide that there will be a transmission line – period.
The need does cause one to wonder – wouldn’t it be easier just to build natural-gas fired generating plants near where power is needed. Why would one need more transmission lines unless it was to feed future power from a nuclear plant or expanded coal-fired plants to the cities. In fact, a Calgary utility is proposing to build three gas-fired plants close to Calgary in the near future; which makes sense now that North America, thanks to new found untold trillions of cubic feet of shale gas, has more surplus natural gas than ever in its history. It needs to be used – not expensive nuclear power or more dirty coal fired plants.
But like with most issues there appears to be another underlying agenda and it involves the politically-correct conniving hand of “green” politics and that means wind power. At present much of the wind power produced in Alberta is sold at a loss to the BC grid. That has to do with the lack of transmission lines from where wind power is produced to where the government would like it used – mainly Calgary and Edmonton. There is also the ongoing problem with wind power – it is totally unreliable and subject to power surges. Some of that could be mitigated with new proposed transmission lines including new ones to be built to hook up with the US grid in Montana. This situation will become even more critical as new wind mill farms being constructed and planned will easily double wind power production from southern Alberta over the next few years.
It all adds to the ongoing madness of wind power that being – more expensive unneeded transmission lines that will add even more eyesores to the Alberta landscape. Why the Alberta government would even contemplate encouraging such development baffles all common sense. What seems to escape our genius politicians is that so called renewable electricity is very expensive and an ongoing extra cost. Let’s keep in mind natural gas production and its use results in royalty payments to the Alberta government. Wind power returns not only zero royalties to the government, but actually costs the taxpayer and consumer in subsidies to that duplicitous industry. I rest my case.