WHEREAS the Alberta Utilities Commission regulates the Alberta Electric System Operator; and
WHEREAS the Alberta Electric System Operator is responsible for the safe, reliable and economic operation of the province-wide electric transmission system, and is responsible for overall system planning and real-time operating the electric transmission system; and
WHEREAS provincial growth has increased the need for and the development of power plants and the associated transmission lines; and
WHEREAS pursuant to Section 632(1) of the Municipal Government Act, a Council of a municipality must adopt a municipal development plan that must address the future land use within the municipality, the manner and the proposals for future development in the municipality, and are therefore responsible for the orderly development of land and land uses within the municipality; and
WHEREAS within the current transmission line planning process, the municipality is not afforded the same authority as other government departments with respect to land use planning;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties work with the provincial government to direct the Alberta Utilities Commission in conjunction with the Alberta Electric System Operator to seek a formal municipal response to ensure that municipal plans are taken into account early in the planning process.
The Municipal District of Pincher Creek No. 9 (the MD) is the location of numerous wind power plants. As the development of wind power grew within the MD the development of the provincial transmission system did not keep pace.
Wind power development has now expanded throughout the province. This sudden rush for developments has required the Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO) to plan for the rapid expansion of the transmission system, an aging system that has not kept pace with current growth in the province.
Municipal councils are charged with the responsibility of providing for the orderly development of land and land uses within the municipality. The rules and regulations pertaining to various land uses are established within the planning documents of a municipality. These are long range planning tools developed by the residents of a municipality and reflect the community goals and values. Councils are continually using these tools for developing policies that are used on a daily basis by the municipality. These planning tools are available to any member of the public or any other organization to review and utilize.
As a result of the demand for transmission lines, municipalities all around the province are being notified of proposed numerous transmission routes at the same time as residents. As having a legislated role in the orderly planning of the land uses within their boundaries, Councils are not being utilized correctly within the planning process. It better serves the interests of the citizens of the province if municipalities are consulted in the initial steps of the planning process so that they can provide the local views and insights to ensure that any planned transmission system meets the needs of the province without sacrificing the goals and values of the municipality.
Municipal councils have a responsibility of providing orderly development of land use within the municipality as required by its municipal development plan. The Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO) is responsible for planning and operating the electric transmission system in the province. The Transmission Facility Owner in the area will develop preferred and alternative specific line routes for consideration by the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC). The AUC, through a public hearing process, approves the routing of the transmission facilities.
Alberta Energy has recently engaged a consultant to review the transmission development process including all of the touch points with process participants. As part of this review, Alberta Energy will discuss the planning and approval process with the AESO and the AUC, with the objective of involving municipalities earlier in the planning and siting of transmission lines.
The AESO and AUC have also been asked to consider adjusting their processes to take into account the municipalities’ concerns.
The AAMDC is encouraged to see the government conduct a review of the transmission development process. As the process will examine all points of contact with municipalities, the AAMDC deems this resolution to be Accepted in Principle. While there is no mention of a formal response from municipalities, the review intends to involve municipalities earlier in the planning and siting of transmission lines. The AAMDC will be re-contacting Alberta Energy about the progress being made in reviewing the transmission development process to ensure that it is improving the process for municipal participation.