Liberal critic calls for new power line hearing

Alberta's Liberal energy critic wants a controversial regulatory hearing restarted because, he claims, the proceeding before the Energy and Utilities Board lacks legitimacy.

Alberta's Liberal energy critic wants acontroversialregulatory hearing restarted because, he claims, the proceeding beforethe Energy and Utilities Boardlacks legitimacy.

"What we need to do here is have a new meeting,have a fresh start,"MLA Hugh MacDonald said Friday.

However, Jason Chance of the Alberta Energy Department said he doesn't know if the provincecan ask theboard to hold a new hearing.

MacDonaldmadehis comment after landowners fighting a proposed power line between Calgary and Edmonton saidprivate investigators had been hired to spy on them.

MacDonaldis also concerned that the hearing is going ahead in a closed room. Theboard decided to accept only written submissions after a scuffle broke out at ahearing in April.

The board isconsidering a proposed 500-kilovolt power line between Calgary and Edmonton. Landowners are concerned about possible health effects and have complained that the board has already decided to approve it.

MacDonald accused theboard of rubber-stamping the project and catering to the electricity industry. The hearing is an example of how the rights of landowners are not fairly represented atEnergy and Utilities Boardhearings, he said.

"It's top-heavy with industry representatives and we have suggested to the minister in the past that this imbalance be changed," he said.

Chance said the board does listen to the concerns of landowners, butthe needs of all Albertansare paramount, andright now, they need more electricity.

AltaLink Management Ltd.wants to build the line.

Last week, the Alberta Court of Appeal gave a landowners' group permission tochallenge two Energy and Utilities Board decisions about the power line.