10/24/2011 04:39 EDT | Updated 12/24/2011 05:12 EST

Alberta Premier Alison Redford defends her support of controversial power line

EDMONTON - Alberta Premier Alison Redford is defending her decision to weigh in on the work of a government-appointed panel deciding the fate of a controversial power line.

In her first question period as premier, Redford dismissed accusations that she interfered when she announced publicly that she wants the Heartland Transmission Line to proceed.

Opponents say she has put the Alberta Utilities Commission in a conflict of interest because the chairman is appointed by the premier.

Redford told the house she wants the line to go ahead, but she respects the commission's independence.

She also said she expects the commission would speak up if it felt its independence had been compromised.

The commission is to release its decision on the Heartland line on Nov. 1.

Critics say there's no proof the extra electricity is needed. They suggest the Heartland line will be paid for by taxpayers, but then power companies will be allowed to sell excess power for private profit.