Farmers can save $1 billion

Farmers between Edmonton and Calgary can save Alberta’s taxpayers a cool $1 billion, if only they would sell their land

Dear Editor:

Farmers between Edmonton and Calgary can save Alberta’s taxpayers a cool $1 billion, if only they would sell their land for $45 million dollars per quarter section.

The government of Alberta has in its infinite wisdom decided to build two massive electricity transmission lines between Edmonton and Calgary, and in doing so approved the construction of two high voltage DC transmission lines over the alternative option of building two high voltage AC transmission lines.

A high voltage DC transmission line costs approximately $1 billion (that’s a “B” for billion) dollars more than a comparable high voltage AC transmission. The government is not proposing to transmit any more electricity using one option verses another. It chose DC technology because high voltage DC technology requires less land than high voltage AC technology. It’s all about land use.

The Alberta Electric System’s Operator (AESO) claims the total right of way of land required for one high voltage DC line between Edmonton and Calgary is approximately 4,920 hectares. The total right of way of land required for a comparable high voltage AC line is 6,340 hectares. The proposed land use savings for choosing high voltage DC is therefore 1,420 hectares per transmission line.

To save 1,420 hectares, Alberta’s government is spending an extra $1 billion dollars. That’s ($1,000,000,000/1,420) $704,225 per hectare or about $284,989 per acre, or $45 million per quarter section.

At roughly the current farmland prices between Edmonton and Calgary, $1 billion would buy 664,000 acres, or about 268,830 hectares, or an area of land 350 kilometres long by 7.7 kilometres wide. Since the right of way for an AC transmission line is about 75 metres, that’s enough land for 100 350-kilometres long double-circuit high voltage AC transmission lines. (AESO claims they only require land for two high voltage AC transmission lines: not 100)

There you have it. The government only needs to use the “extra” $1 billion it planned on spending to build one high voltage DC Line and purchase a path of land wide enough between Edmonton and Calgary, paying $45 million per quarter section, to eliminate the need to build a second — or for that matter, any — high voltage DC transmission line. Farmers can then say they saved Albertans $1 billion.

This fall session the Alberta Legislature will debate whether the $16.6 billion transmission line proposal is even needed. The Wildrose opposition will introduce a motion to require that the government show proof that the transmission lines are needed. This PC government is expected to reject the motion.

All the evidence confirms these transmission line are not needed. The Alberta Government has rejected every call to show proof. If Albertans wake up before this money is misspent, image what we could do if even a portion of these funds were used to improve education, health care, our highway system, and the care for our seniors.

Joe Anglin

MLA Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre

Wildrose environment and utilities critic

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