BILL 50 – A CURIOUS SOLUTION TO TRANSMISSION PROBLEMS: ELECTRICITY TRANSMISSION PLANNING AND APPROVAL
Edmonton, AB, 17 November 2009 – There is no doubt that electricity transmission planning and approval in Alberta faces challenges, including difficulty responding to public concern. Bill 50 – the Electric Statutes Amendment Act – is the most recent attempt to address these challenges. However, not everyone agrees that Bill 50 will work.
“Bill 50 is a curious solution because it doesn’t fix the overall transmission process or address bigger problems in assessing transmission need,” says Laura Bowman, Staff Counsel at the Edmonton-based Environmental Law Centre.
According to Bowman, significant problems with Bill 50 include:
· Too much broad Cabinet discretion over complex transmission planning and approval issues;
· Little guidance regarding how Cabinet will decide which infrastructure is “critical.” Cabinet is not required to consider clear criteria or consult the public or affected parties prior to making this designation;
· No clear process for advancing or debating environmental issues, property rights or social components of critical transmission projects, or to assist the government in controlling pollution and ensuring environmental conservation; and
· Instead of accounting for need by setting clear objectives and priorities in consultation with the public and affected parties, the bill will allow Cabinet to determine the need for critical transmission without considering adequacy, cost, reliability, generation competitiveness, sustainability, or environmental impacts.
According to Bowman, Bill 50 should not be passed. “The government needs to find a way to address need through public participation and a complete assessment of whether transmission is in the public interest or not.”