This release was issued under a previous government.

In addition, more than 60 per cent of the approved route parallels existing lines, minimizing the project’s visual and environmental effects and disturbance of land.

In Decision 2012-327, released today, the Alberta Utilities Commission approved the application from AltaLink Management Ltd. for the proposed 500-kilovolt, direct-current transmission line with associated converter stations and equipment that would extend approximately 350 km from Genesee, west of Edmonton to the Langdon area east of Calgary. The need for the line was specified by the Alberta government as critical transmission infrastructure in 2009 in the Electric Statutes Amendment Act. The capital cost of the project was estimated by AltaLink to be approximately $1.5 billion.

The AUC approved portions of the WATL route preferred by the applicant and in several cases alternatives developed from landowner suggestions and then submitted by the applicant. Overall, based on land use, social, cost and environmental considerations the route approved by the AUC was found to be both in the public interest and superior to other potential routes.

Among the most substantial deviations from the applicant’s preferred routing the AUC approved is a 37-km stretch known as the Crossfield Tie option. “The Commission finds the agricultural and visual impacts favour the Crossfield Tie option and the environmental and cost considerations slightly favour the Crossfield Tie option,“ the AUC stated in its decision. “The Commission ...finds that the Crossfield Tie option is preferable to the preferred route.”

The AUC has also directed the applicant to use less obtrusive monopole structures in a 12-km stretch east of Gleniffer Reservoir, make a minor adjustment to the route near where it would cross Hwy. 2 north of Crossfield and has directed AltaLink to investigate a further routing adjustment over a 3.2-km stretch in that area. A further refinement to the approved route where it crosses Hwy. 2 could also occur.

As is evident in Section 5 of today’s written decision, in this proceeding the AUC spent substantial time and energy considering in depth a motion brought before it arguing that the proposed WATL project represented an interprovincial or international work or undertaking and should therefore be outside the jurisdiction of the AUC. The motion was dismissed, with the AUC stating within its analysis that “(s)eeing that its start and end points are in Alberta and that the proposed transmission line, if approved, will be part of the Alberta Interconnected Electric System, the Commission finds that the proposed Western Alberta Transmission Line is a local work...(T)he Commission is of the view that the proposed Western Alberta Transmission Line and associated substations are works entirely within Alberta and are prima facie within provincial jurisdiction.”

Today’s decision marks the completion of an AUC review process that formally began in January 2011, included many thousands of pages of documents, nearly 1,000 exhibits and more than 75 witnesses. In recognition of the scope, nature and timeframe of the application, the AUC applied an enhanced process that included broad notification and provision of information, automatic standing for most parties, and multiple options for participation including community hearing sessions.

In the course of this proceeding the AUC held nine information sessions in multiple communities along the preferred and alternate routes, and conducted 24 days of public oral hearing in Red Deer beginning June 11, 2012, along with five community hearing sessions in communities that included Red Deer, Rimbey, Didsbury and Indus. The result was an open and transparent review that maximized the amount of preparation time for all participants. The application was originally received on March 1, 2011.

Today’s decision along with extensive additional information related to the WATL project application, and the AUC’s hearing process, can be found on the AUC’s website, at www.auc.ab.ca.

The Alberta Utilities Commission is an independent, quasi-judicial agency of the province of Alberta. As part of its mandate the Commission has jurisdiction over the siting of facilities deemed to be critical transmission facilities, as well as other transmission facilities, electric power plants and natural gas transmission pipelines. The AUC regulates the utilities sector, natural gas and electricity markets to protect the social, economic and environmental interests of Alberta where competitive market forces do not.

Media inquiries may be directed to:

Jim Law
Director, External Relations, Alberta Utilities Commission 
Phone: 403-512-3417
Email: jim.law@auc.ab.ca 

Geoff Scotton
Senior Communications Advisor, Alberta Utilities Commission
Phone: 403-650-5774
Email:geoff.scotton@auc.ab.ca 

Backgrounder

Western Alberta Transmission Line

The Western Alberta Transmission Line is one of six facilities incorporated in four projects deemed to be critical transmission infrastructure by the government of Alberta in the Electric Statutes Amendment Act, 2009.

Key features:

Project proponent: AltaLink Management Ltd.
Project cost: $1.5 billion.
Length: Approximately 350 km.

Technology:

  • A 500-kilovolt alternating current/direct current converter stations in the Genesee area west of Edmonton (Sunnybrook 510S).
  • A 240-kilovolt alternating current/500-kilovolt direct current substation adjacent to the existing Langdon 102S substation.
  • A 500-kilovolt direct-current transmission line connecting the Genesee area west of Edmonton to the Langdon area east of Calgary.
  • A 500 kilovolt alternating current substation (Bennett 520S) located near Langdon.

Need:

Determined by the government of Alberta in the Electric Statutes Amendment Act. 2009.
Confirmed in the February 2012 Report of the Critical Transmission Review Committee.

Application received: March 1, 2011.
Decision rendered: December 6, 2012

AUC proceeding facts:

  • Numbers of pages in evidence: More than 10,000.
  • Exhibits: 936.
  • Witnesses: Approximately 80.
  • AUC information sessions held: Nine.
  • AUC public hearing days: 24.
  • AUC Community hearing sessions: Five.

AUC process:

In recognition of the scale and magnitude of the proposed WATL project, the Alberta Utilities Commission employed an enhanced process to provide early opportunities for participation in the Commission’s preparations for and consideration of the application. This enhanced process included flexible options for interested parties to participate formally or informally, deemed early standing for landowner interveners (with consequent early access to intervener funding), early process meetings to identify key issues and community hearing sessions.

Chronology

  • December 6, 2012: AUC issues Decision 2012-327, approving the WATL project. In total, the decision is approximately 300 pages.
  • September 10, 2012: Record of proceeding closes.
  • August 3, 2012: Oral public hearing for WATL concludes.
  • July 24 and July 27, 2012: AUC issues letters regarding written final argument and reply arguments.
  • July 12, 2012: AUC issues letter on motion challenging constitutional jurisdiction of AUC.
  • June 20, 2012: Community hearing session held in Red Deer, Alberta.
  • June 14, Community hearing session held in Indus, Alberta.
  • June 13: AUC issued ruling with reasons on motion to adjourn consideration of WATL application.
  • June 13, 2012: Community hearing session held in Didsbury, Alberta.
  • June 12, 2012: Community hearing session held in Rimbey, Alberta.
  • June 11, 2012: Community hearing session held in Red Deer, Alberta.
  • June 11, 2012: Oral hearing gets underway in Red Deer, Alberta.
  • March 6, 2012: AUC issues notice of hearing.
  • February 24, 2012: AUC issues letter to all registered participants advising it will proceed with consideration of the WATL application.
  • February 23, 2012: Government of Alberta requests the AUC resume its examination of the WATL application.
  • February 13, 2012. Report of the Critical Transmission Review Committee is released, confirming need for reinforcement of north-south transmission as soon as possible, reasonableness of two north-south lines and improved efficacy of direct-current lines.
  • October 21, 2011. The AUC suspends its consideration of the WATL application at the government’s request. The government launches an independent review committee to examine the need for WATL and the Eastern Alberta Transmission Line, use of direct-current technology and related matters.
  • September 12, 2011: Deadline to file submissions.
  • August 22, 23 and 24, 2011: AUC information sessions held in Ponoka, Red Deer and Didsbury.
  • August 4, 2011: Notice of hearing issued with details on the hearing, community hearing sessions and, schedule and information sessions.
  • July 28, 2011: Decision 2011-320 (Errata) regarding advanced funding issued.
  • July 27, 2011: Proceeding scheduling meeting held in Red Deer, Alberta.
  • June 21, 2011: AUC issues ruling on standing and on timing of proceeding.
  • May 5, 2011: Decision 2011-198 issued with results of April 20 process meeting.
  • April 20, 2011: Process meeting held in Red Deer.
  • March 8, 2011: AUC issues notice of application.
  • March 1 to 3, 2011: AUC information sessions held in Ponoka, Indus and Didsbury.
  • March 1, 2011: AltaLink Management Ltd. filed WATL application.
  • February 22, 23 and 24: Information sessions held in Warburg, Rimbey and Red Deer.
  • January 31, 2011: In anticipation of the WATL application, the AUC launches an enhanced public process for the WATL project application, with information sessions scheduled in February for Warburg, Rimbey and Red Deer, and in March in Ponoka, Indus and Didsbury.

Map

A stylized map of the approved route has been produced to show the basic details of WATL’s AUC-approved route segments. Exact details of the routing approved by the AUC may be found in the decision itself.