Appeal court not likely to hear Heartland case before fall

The Alberta Court of Appeal isn’t likely to consider the appeal against the Heartland transmission project before it returns from it summer recess September 3, a court clerk told TransmissionHub June 1.

The clerk said that that the case has not yet been placed on the court’s calendar and likely will not be calendared until after the court’s July-August summer recess.

Justice Ronald Berger on March 28 issued the decision accepting the appeal request by Alberta residents Stuart and Karen Shaw against the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC), as well as the projects’ developers, Altalink Management and EPCOR Distribution & Transmission.

The Shaws argued that the AUC ignored “significant negative social and economic effects which they claim were attested to by witnesses who testified before the commission,” according to the decision.

While it is possible the case could be heard before the summer break, if the appellants came to the court for a special hearing,” the court clerk said. However, there is no indication the appellants are planning to do so. “I don’t think that’s in the works because we haven’t heard anything,” the clerk said.

In fact, the clerk said the attorney for the appellants still has yet to file any of the necessary paperwork including a notice of appeal, an appeal book containing support materials, and a factum. However, in this specific case, there is no deadline by which the documents must be filed, the clerk said.

Calls seeking comment from the attorney, Keith Wilson, were not returned by press time.

The appeal request pending before the court is the last outstanding challenge to the line. On May 15, an AUC review panel rejected requests by several parties that the AUC reconsider its approval of the Heartland transmission project (Decision 2011-436).

Strathcona County, Responsible Electricity Transmission for Albertans (RETA), two families, and a farm near the AltaLink/EPCOR line’s proposed route filed challenges to the AUC’s original decision. A challenge by a sixth group, the FIRST group, was dismissed in a ruling dated Jan. 24.

Opponents could have appealed the original decision in one of two ways: either to the Court of Appeal of Alberta, or to the AUC as a request it to review and vary its decision.

A spokesperson for the AUC told TransmissionHub on June 1 that the deadlines for appealing the AUC’s original decision, either with the AUC or the Court of Appeal, have passed.