AESO, AltaLink can keep their lines until need proven

Dear Editor:

I feel compelled to comment on the letter presented by the vice-president, transmission, of the Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO) on Jan. 12.

I cannot help but agree that it is immensely important that Albertans have a consistent, affordable supply of electricity for now and into the future. Neither business nor individuals can be expected to operate with instability in electricity supply and this is an issue that grows even more important as technologies like hybrids are introduced to the grid and as Alberta’s economy continues to grow.

But I have dispute with the writer beyond this.

Critical transmission infrastructure projects as they are defined under law are quite different from urgent or pressing projects. They simply imply that the legislation under Bill 50 is in operation and no public need for the increase in infrastructure has to be proven. Naming them as “critical” could be very misleading, but I digress.

I do not believe AESO has the best interests of the Alberta people at heart. This or their research methodology is flawed to a very high degree. Either way, I don’t believe we should place our trust in them to forecast and shape the future of our power grid with our tax dollars.

Case in point: A needs identification document published by AESO and available on the Alberta Utilities Commission website on the currently proposed Hanna transmission project showed that the peak winter load for the entire area in 2008 was 419.6 megawatts. This was actually the same AESO, AltaLink can keep their lines until need proven as 2007’s peak winter load. Every year before, this region had seen increases and decreases in peak load, with the largest increase to date being less than 20 MW between 2002 and 2003.

For their 2009 forecast, AESO predicted that the demand for the area would increase by 186 MW to 605.6 in 2009, another 48 MW the next year and another 22 MW the year after. The organization I serve asked AESO for the actual numbers for 2009, and the results were quite interesting: the entire Hanna region’s winter peak load for 2009 was 412 MW, a decrease from 2008 and clearly not the 150+ MW increase that was “forecast.”

One can talk political motivations and conspiracy theory forever and a day, but simply: facts don’t lie. AESO appears to be incompetent and/or uncaring to the average ratepayer, and I have lost faith in their ability to decide what is best for me as an Albertan. On a side note, who voted AESO members into their positions?

Add this to the decreasing cost and increasing efficiency of technology, the decreasing value of money over time, and the ability of AESO to lawfully push through any lines actually proven to be urgently needed (as opposed to “critical”) and as far as I’m concerned AESO and AltaLink can keep their lines until they can prove to me that we actually need them.

Lastly, I’d like to thank our tax-paid employee, AESO’s VP of transmission, for taking time from improving the efficiency and reliability of the Alberta transmission system to respond to the original letter.

Shane Dyck,

on behalf of United Power Area Transmission Group (UPTAG)

Red Deer County