Long-term Transmission System Plan identifies need for critical transmission system investments

    CALGARY, June 2 /CNW/ - Several critical transmission infrastructure
projects are needed between 2010 and 2017 to meet the current and future
electricity needs of Albertans, the Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO)
said today in the latest update of its Long-term Transmission System Plan (the
    "We need to reinforce the transmission "backbone," that runs through the
province and links vital parts of the system," said David Erickson, AESO
president and chief executive officer (interim). "Despite rapid growth in
Alberta over the past several years, no major backbone transmission projects
have been built for more than 20 years."
    Due to inefficiencies with Alberta's transmission system, $220 million
worth of electricity was lost in the form of heat from transmission lines in
2008 alone. Also, using technology such as high voltage-direct current lines
will minimize land-use impacts and accommodate long-term economic growth.
    In addition, transmission development will unlock geographic constraints
for all forms of electricity generation, including "green energy" such as
wind, solar and water power.
    The projects identified in the Plan, filed today with the Alberta
Utilities Commission, are currently estimated to cost $14.5 billion. While
some of the transmission projects identified in the Plan are new, most have
been studied for some time as part of the AESO's comprehensive long-term
planning process, so technical evaluations and stakeholder consultation are
well advanced.
    Five critical transmission infrastructure projects are highlighted in the
Plan and have been classified by the AESO as "CTI-Tier 1." One of these
projects is transmission development in southern Alberta to integrate wind
energy and is currently in the regulatory process. The need for the other four
is expected to be approved later this year by the provincial government under
legislation related to the government's Provincial Energy Strategy.
    "These critically important projects are aligned with the Provincial
Energy Strategy, which includes building critical transmission infrastructure
so it leads business investment decisions that rely upon electricity," Mr.
Erickson said.

    The CTI-Tier 1 projects are:
    -   Two 500 kV HVDC high-capacity lines from the Edmonton area to the
        Calgary and South regions.
    -   One 500 kV double circuit AC line from the Edmonton area to the
        Industrial Heartland area (parts of Sturgeon, Strathcona and Lamont
    -   Two 500 kV lines to Fort McMurray; one from the Wabamun Lake area and
        one from the industrial Heartland area northeast of Edmonton.
    -   The AESO is looking at various options to strengthen the transmission
        system in the south Calgary area and will conduct further analysis
        and stakeholder consultation. These reinforcements may include an
        additional substation and/or new transmission.
    -   New transmission development in southern Alberta to integrate wind
        energy. This project is currently in the regulatory process.

    The CTI-Tier 1 projects are estimated to cost $8.1 billion, which will
result in an increase of about $8 per month to the transmission charge on an
average residential customer's bill, after the projects are completed.
Transmission costs are recovered through charges paid by all electricity users
in Alberta based on their use of the system and as specific facilities are put
into place.
    The Plan also includes additional critical transmission infrastructure
(CTI-Tier 2) projects, with a current estimated cost of $6.4 billion that are
at a less advanced stage of planning. These include upgrades and regional
    Potential intertie projects that will improve Alberta's interconnections
with neighbouring provinces and states are also identified within the scope of
the Plan. These projects enable imports of power when required and exports of
surpluses. This flexibility supports and encourages market development,
helping to create the necessary environment for competitive prices and a more
reliable system for Albertans.
    "The projects represent investments in Alberta," said Mr. Erickson.
"Transmission infrastructure is an asset that typically lasts 40 years."
    The Plan is part of the AESO's comprehensive long-term planning process
for the provincial electric system. An update of the Plan is filed with the
Alberta Utilities Commission every two years for information.
    Stakeholder consultation is an important part of developing the Plan.
Generators, transmission facility owners, municipalities and other industry
groups provided feedback on the plan while it was developed. The AESO also
consults with stakeholders on a project-by-project basis and other planning
reports. The AESO's reports are available on the company's website at

    As an independent system operator, the AESO leads the safe, reliable and
economic planning and operation of Alberta's interconnected power system. The
AESO also facilitates Alberta's fair, efficient and openly competitive
wholesale electricity market, which has about 200 participants and
approximately $9 billion in annual energy transactions.

For further information:

For further information: Doug Downs, Corporate Communications, Phone:
(403) 539-2546, Email: doug.downs@aeso.ca, Pager: (403) 515-9450

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