Alberta's electricity transmission system is the electrical equivalent of our highway system. Transmission lines move electricity from where it is generated to where it is consumed. Sustainable, long-term growth means making sure infrastructure is built, and that means power plants, wind farms and transmission lines are in place to meet the electricity needs of Albertans. In the development of transmission lines Alberta’s tradition of good planning and respect for landowners remains in place.
Alberta's electricity system is owned and operated by a mix of investor-owned and municipally owned companies, not by the Alberta government. To ensure Albertans of a long-term, reliable supply of competitively priced electricity, Alberta Energy develops, supports and monitors the framework for bringing new generation on-line, competitive electricity markets, and efficient delivery systems.
Investor confidence in Alberta's competitive electricity market has resulted in over 9,000 megawatts (MW) of new installed electricity generating capacity since 1998. In addition, industry has expressed interest in investing in another 10,272 MW of new power development in coming years, which will ensure we continue to meet our province's growing demands. To put this growth in perspective, one MW of generating capacity
Thermal sources account for the majority of Alberta's installed generating capacity: coal-fired plants make up about 38 per cent of the province's total installed generating capacity, and natural gas accounts for about 44 per cent, including efficient cogeneration at industrial operations that produce energy as a by-product of their normal activities. The remainder is hydro, wind and biomass (energy produced from organic sources such as wood waste, garbage or animal matter).
The ability to deliver electricity throughout Alberta must also be increased in order to keep pace with the province's continued strong economic growth. In late 2003, government approved a new transmission development policy to encourage timely, cost-efficient investment in transmission infrastructure, the backbone of the electricity system. The Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO) is responsible for planning Alberta's transmission system and is required to develop a long-term transmission plan that delivers adequate transmission for the safe, reliable and economic operation of Alberta's electric system. To ensure all transmission charges to generators, industrial, commercial or residential customers are fair, the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) regulates Alberta's transmission system.