2017 Harvest

2017 Harvest

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Alberta Utilities Commission turns down landowner request to review MATL consultation process

The Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) has denied a request for review by affected landowners of its approval for the construction and operation of an international power line from Alberta to the United States.  The power line application was made by Montana Alberta Tie Ltd. (MATL), and on January 31, 2008 the AUC conditionally approved the Power Line. 

In April of 2010, a group of landowners acting as "My Landman Group Inc." asked the AUC to review its decision because they alleged that MATL had not complied with the conditions of the original approval related to landowner consultation and negotiation.  Landowners asked the AUC to enforce its conditions of approval and, if the AUC declined, stated that they would ask for similar relief from the Surface Rights Board.  The landowners submitted that once MATL obtained its licence, it stopped engaging in negotiations and mitigation and cancelled meetings with landowners until survey permission was sought and a final offer was delivered, which, for certain landowners, was over two years later.

The landowners submitted that they have been attempting to discuss and negotiate outstanding matters with MATL, without any success. They believe that MATL does not intend to meet to negotiate, including making any changes to their proposed right-of-way agreements, with first and final offers having been the same, with no unique conditions between the unique needs of individual landowners. They question how these practices can reasonably be characterized as negotiation and mitigation, and believe that the concept of negotiation implies willingness by both parties to compromise.  The landowners effectively believe that MATL is not negotiating in good faith or engaging in mitigation.

The AUC rejected the landowners' request for review, first on the basis that the request was out of time and second on the basis that there were no exceptional circumstances warranting a late review.  The Commission found that:
... there is nothing before the Commission in this proceeding that demonstrates that the process has not been followed. The Commission finds that Landowner submissions simply indicate that the Landowners are not satisfied with the results of the process and that they have not reached an agreement with MATL. In this latter regard, the Commission notes that Decision 2008-006 specifically contemplated that the Surface Rights Board has the jurisdiction to issue right of entry orders and to address matters involving compensation, such as impacts from final pole locations, where private negotiations between landowners and MATL remain unsuccessful.
Read the decision at: Re My Landman Group Inc.