03/19/2012 07:30 EDT | Updated 05/19/2012 05:12 EDT

NDP warns about plans to export Alberta power to the U.S., says costs will rise

EDMONTON - Alberta's NDP is sounding the alarm about power prices.

Leader Brian Mason says major energy companies Capital Power and Direct Energy have applied to export more than 400 times the amount of energy that is already exported from the province to the United States.

Mason says the move will mean higher power prices for Albertans and stretch Alberta's grid to the max.

Mason thinks the power companies are making the move to force the province to go ahead with major transmission projects to create more power.

Last month, the Alberta government approved the building of two high-voltage electricity lines running from the Edmonton area down to Calgary and beyond.

An independent panel of experts said the two lines are needed to service Alberta's growing population and industry.

One is AltaLink's Western Alberta Transmission Line, running 350 kilometres from west of Edmonton at Genessee to an area just east of Calgary. ATCO Electric is pursuing one that would run 500 km from east of Edmonton down to Brooks.

The lines would double Alberta's current energy capacity and the panel said the extra cost to taxpayers would be $3 a month on residential power bills.

The NDP has been fighting the rising bills for month. It spearheaded a petition campaign and asked consumers to send in their high power bills to shame the government.

(CHED, The Canadian Press)