A government-appointed committee reviewing plans for two proposed high-voltage transmission lines opens three days of hearings in Edmonton on Wednesday

The Critical Transmission Review Committee is hearing submissions on two controversial projects: AltaLink's Western Alberta Transmission Line and the Eastern Alberta Transmission Line proposed by ATCO Electric.

The province says the lines are necessary to make Alberta's network more reliable and accomodating to long-term growth. 

But critics say the lines are not necessary and are only being proposed to export electricity to the United States.


Colleen Boddez is the president of the Alberta Landowners Council, one of the groups making a presentation to the commmittee on Wednesday. (CBC)

"This will be a huge overbuild of a transmission system that isn't needed," said Colleen Boddez, president of the Alberta Landowners Council.

"Suddenly now we have an election looming and it's made to look I think as if somebody is caring and saying oh we're here and listening."

But an industry representative says the lines are necessary. Epcor spokesman Tim le Riche says Albertans have a "voracious appetite" for electricity which is evident during the current cold snap.

"We had a record power draw both on Sunday night and Monday night due to the cold," he said. "So that's just one example of how Albertans really are putting a strain on the electrical system in Alberta and it's Epcor's position that we need more transmission."

Last week, the committee heard similar positions during hearings in Calgary.

"We've had the whole wide range of opinion from 'These lines are absolutely necessary, the day after tomorrow to 'They're never going to be needed in the next 20 years,'" said committee chairman Brian Heidecker.

Heidecker is calling on people to come out to the hearings and make a presentation. He says people's views will be included in the report, despite what some think.

"Make your case for or against and give us some facts and figures," he said.

Hearings will be held in Edmonton on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at the Ramada Conference Centre on Kingsway Avenue.

The committee is to submit its report to Energy Minister Ted Morton by Feb. 10th.