‘We will continue to be run by Albertans’: AltaLink on proposed sale to American conglomerate

File: power lines. Getty Images

EDMONTON – AltaLink is responding to ATCO, after the company confirmed that it was behind a series of anonymous ads published in Alberta newspapers last week.

The full-page, colour ads taken out by ATCO in the Edmonton Journal, Calgary Herald and other papers protest the proposed $3.2-billion sale of AltaLink, Alberta’s largest electricity transmitter, to American conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway. The sale is expected to close Dec. 31 but needs approval from the Alberta Utilities Commission.

The ads alleged that the sale would mean loss of infrastructure control for Alberta. They also warned against the “potential for more power exports.”

ATCO also own transmission lines in Alberta, but the company says its concerns are a matter of principle.

“The electric transmission system is critical infrastructure and in every other province but Alberta, it is owned within the province,” Nancy Southern, ATCO president and CEO, said in a news release.

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“I believe this is a matter of principle that should be debated so that all Albertans understand the impact of such a transaction.”

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AltaLink denies the sale would change any operations in Alberta.

“We will continue to be run by Albertans and be overseen by both the Alberta Electric System Operator and regulated by the Alberta Utilities Commission,” said Scott Thon, president and CEO of AltaLink.

“We don’t control import and export. … That is really defined by the market and overseen by the Alberta Electric System Operator,” he said when asked about ATCO’s power-export concerns.

In Saturday’s Edmonton Journal, AltaLink responded with its own ad, aimed at making the intentions of the sale clear.

“There will be no loss of control for Albertans, and Albertan regulators will have full regulatory oversight,” the ad reads. 

AltaLink’s ad in the Saturday, July 12, 2014 edition of the Edmonton Journal.
AltaLink’s ad in the Saturday, July 12, 2014 edition of the Edmonton Journal. Global News

The Alberta Electric System Operator oversees Alberta’s electricity market. On its website, the AESO claims to be free of industry affiliations.

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The ATCO ads encourage Albertans to contact the federal government and the Alberta Utilities Commission and urge them to conduct a policy review.

A spokesperson told Global News the commission welcomes public input and had received about 100 emails as a result of the ads.

Jessica Johnson, communications director for Service Alberta, says the province’s Utility Consumer Advocate will attend the commission’s hearings to “ensure that consumer interests are protected with regards to their energy bills.”

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