A government-appointed panel of experts has found that Alberta needs to build two controversial high-voltage transmission lines between Edmonton and Calgary as soon as possible.
In its report released Monday, the Critical Transmission Review Committee also recommended that responsibility for evaluating the need of future projects be taken from cabinet — the current scenario under the controversial Bill 50 — and given back to the Alberta Utilities Commission, which held public hearings.
"As economies grow, electricity demands do grow," said committee chair Brian Heidecker. "We're seeing significant growth in some regions, and not in others. We have a pretty good idea of where the new generation is going to be built."
The committee also found there is no evidence that the lines would be used to export electricity outside the province. Development costs for the lines are expected to be $3 per month for residential customers.
The Critical Transmission Review Committee was appointed last fall by Premier Alison Redford.
The members held public hearings in Edmonton and Calgary last month on the need for two controversial projects: AltaLink's Western Alberta Transmission Line and the Eastern Alberta Transmission Line proposed by ATCO Electric.
Keith Wilson, the lawyer for the Alberta Landowners Council, a group that has been battling the new lines, called Monday's report a whitewash.
"The major industry groups, the major companies that employ Albertans, that build projects, that need electricity, have looked at this and said it's a massive overbuild," he said.
Energy Minister Ted Morton said he has read the report and plans to respond to its recommendations by the end of the month.