I don't usually do "guest blogs" in this space...and this is not an exception although it may look like it. Fellow Rebooter and activist Joe Anglin has been tireless in his pursuit of fairness, justice, accountability, honesty and transparency. He has been especially diligent around issues of electricity transmission and impact on private property rights in rural Alberta.
I get Joe's missives on these complex issues and read them. But like so many other Albertan's I feel the issues are too complex and as an individual I am too powerless to do much about them. That is a dangerous and unhelpful attitude to take. If citizen's are going to take on changing the power system - in many levels of that term - then we need to know what we are talking about and what we want as an alternative.
Joe's latest message is pretty simple to follow and pretty important to understand. I am sure he would be delighted to hear from you if you wantt to learn and know more about these critical issues to the future fairness, progress, sustainability and well-being of Alberta and Albertans.
Here is what Joe sent me. Read it and reflect on it and tell him, me, and mostly your local MLA, what you think.
Is AltaLink double dipping on the public?????
AltaLink has asked the Alberta Utilities Commission to force the Alberta public to reimburse $35 million dollars for the costs AltaLink incurred during the 2007 500KV transmission line hearings.
What costs did AltaLink incur in 2007? The majority of engineering costs for the 500KV transmission line were incurred and reimbursed to AltaLink from the 2004 “Needs” hearing process. After the need for a 500KV transmission line was approved by the EUB, the EUB reimbursed AltaLink for its costs in Decision 2005-037.
In fact, in Decision 2005-037 the EUB Board wrote:
The AESO claimed $262,195.13 with respect to its participation in the proceeding. Of that amount, $96,989.00 related to legal fees, $38,072.53 related to consulting fees, and the remainder related to disbursements.
AltaLink claimed $204,500.03 with respect to its participation in the proceeding. Of that amount, $172,732.00 related to legal fees, $19,155.00 related to consulting fees, and $12,613.03 related to disbursements. AltaLink participated in the pre-hearing meeting, prepared written submissions, IRs, and answers to IRs, cross-examined the City of Calgary (Calgary) and IPCAA/ADC, and provided argument at the proceeding. The Board considers that AltaLink was one of the major participants in the proceeding.
The “Needs” hearing determined the size of the line, and where the line was going to be placed in the west corridor. The size of the line dictated the size and type of the conductor, which dictated the size and type of towers. After the “needs” hearing there was little left for AltaLink’s engineers to do! All that remained was for AltaLink’s engineers to space the towers apart, (on a piece of paper), from one another in a straight line, and count the total number of towers. It is reasonable to believe that AltaLink’s engineers should be able to count approximately 300 towers for considerably less than $35 million dollars!
Surely, Borden Ladner and Gervais (BLG), AltaLink’s lawyers, didn’t charge $35 million dollars in legal fees! After all, AESO and AltaLink’s combined legal expenses only totalled to less than $500,000 dollars for the “Needs” hearing, and the total 2007 legal costs incurred for all 32 parties involved (each represented by individual lawyers and consultants), amounted to less than $1.9 million dollars. Ralph Klein and the former EUB Chairman, Neil McCrank, who coincidently oversaw the approval of the transmission line, who both now work for BLG – could they be worth $35 million dollars?
What the public needs is a full independent judicial inquiry into this debacle!
This commenary from Joe Anglin says alot to the citizens of Alberta but are we saying enough to change things in the way we are governed in our province? Whose province is it anyway?