2015 Report to Communities

We are responsible, in my opinion, for the citizens of our own city.

Meet Tom. He’s a father, a mentor, a teacher, and a craftsman. He’s also the longstanding Woodshop Manager at Calgary’s Drop-In Centre, which under Tom’s guidance has become both a sanctuary and a training ground for at-risk youth seeking a better life.

Tom believes that everyone deserves an opportunity no matter where they come from. Inspiring others with his passion and dedication, Tom is powering a woodshop dedicated to second chances.

To find out how to support this amazing initiative, click here.

I want the future of the tech world to look more diverse.

Meet Kylie. She’s a leader, an entrepreneur and an all-around free thinker. Uncomfortable with the lack of diversity in the tech world, Kylie set out to inspire a new generation of women to empower themselves through technology. And with Chic Geek, she’s doing just that.

Kylie believes innovation and diversity go hand in hand, so she’s pushing our province forward by encouraging women to challenge expectations and explore their geeky sides. After all, if there’s one box she’s okay with, it’s the one with the LCD screen.

Check out some of Chic Geek’s upcoming events here.

I decided I was going to make a difference.

Meet Albert. Part innovator, part entrepreneur, part eco-warrior, Albert has always been driven to forge his own path in life. As the founder and inventor of Detanichok Eco-Roads, a wood fibre covering made entirely from recycled materials, Albert reimagined what an access road could be — creating something that was both sustainable and environmentally friendly.

Albert believes that it’s up to us as Albertans to show the world that we can balance the needs of industry with our commitment to the environment. So he’s proving his point — one road at a time.

To find out more, contact Albert here.

What I’ve seen is a hunger in the people of Alberta for new ways of thinking.

Meet Jean. As the artistic director of the internationally acclaimed Alberta Ballet Company, Jean is asked to be many things to many people. He’s the visionary, the teacher, the organizer, the choreographer, but the one thing that’s always centered him is his unwavering love for dance. Since taking the reins in 2002, Jean has channeled his passion to shape the direction of the company, showing everyone that Alberta can create art worthy of the world’s best stages.

Jean believes that arts and culture plays a vital role in our province — stimulating us, challenging us and encouraging us to see the world in new and exciting ways. Long after the curtain falls, Jean’s impact will be felt on this province, leaving behind an artistic legacy that’s sure to inspire generations.

Visit the Alberta Ballet website to see all the upcoming shows for this year.

One of the greatest feelings is coming across the next big idea.

Meet Mark. Ever since a near fatal car crash forced him to take another look at his life, Mark has been on a mission to make a difference. As Director of Renewable Energy at Alberta Innovates — Energy & Environment Solutions, Mark is putting our future first — seeking out innovative solutions, forging new partnerships and nurturing emergent technologies to help keep Alberta both green and prosperous.

Mark believes innovation is the key to a sustainable future. As a society, we need to be open to new ideas, new ways of doing things and new possibilities. We may have tremendous natural resources, but it’s up to all of us to keep it that way.

Learn more about what Alberta Innovates — Energy & Environment Solutions does here.

It’s been quite a year in Alberta. We’ve seen a challenging economy, a new government and a new vision for our province. At AltaLink, we’ve been working this year to respond to the economy and our customers’ needs. We see a lot of possibilities in Alberta right now, despite the challenges we’re facing.

The people of our province have always rallied together to see the opportunity when challenged, and now is no different. That’s why this year’s Report to Communities is focused on telling the stories of Albertans who have powered their way through to success and are making a difference in our community. Now more than ever, we need to be reminded of the possibilities in our province that are waiting to be seized.

AltaLink is proud to be a part of this great province, and now we’re ready to write the next chapter in Alberta’s incredible story. Our new owner, Berkshire Hathaway Energy, is just as excited by the possibilities in this province as we are, and is re-investing 100 per cent of AltaLink’s earnings back into Alberta and Canada to ensure we continue to set the stage for energy initiatives in this country.

From the homes we live in, to the farms that feed us, to businesses that drive our economy, we keep the lights on — safely and reliably — for more than three million Albertans every day. And as that number grows we will continue to meet the demand for electricity in Alberta.

Moving forward we will continue to provide value to every Albertan whether it is through new, innovative power solutions, community outreach or cost-savings measures. In fact, on June 1, 2015 we submitted an amendment to the Alberta Utilities Commission that proposes to save our customers $550 million over the next three years. And it doesn’t stop there. Our committed team at AltaLink continues to find ways to make sure you’re getting the value you expect out of our electricity transmission system.

We’re honoured to be part of a province that’s filled with as many possibilities as Alberta. We look forward to playing our part in helping build a better province by providing the reliable power that helps people innovate, inspire, lead, teach and create. I hope you will take the time to check out the stories of these innovative Albertans profiled in our Report to Communities. They inspired us and we’re quite certain they’ll inspire you too.

Scott Thon
President and Chief Executive Officer

A partnership to make our province stronger

As an Albertan, you may have heard about the recent purchase of AltaLink by Berkshire Hathaway Energy. What you’re probably wondering is how this will affect your life and the province you’re proud to call home. Since day one, AltaLink has always been focused on delivering the very best for the citizens of this province, and it’s that very commitment to our values and our customers that caught the interest of a recognized global energy leader like Berkshire Hathaway Energy. We’re starting a new chapter, a chapter filled with exciting possibilities, while also continuing to build on what we do best — delivering the reliable energy Albertans depend on.

First and foremost this partnership represents an investment in the continued growth and prosperity of our province. As part of its ownership, Berkshire Hathaway Energy has committed to reinvesting 100 percent of AltaLink’s earnings back into Alberta and Canada.

By sharing in the expertise, innovation and best-in-class practices of a global energy leader, AltaLink can continue to provide our world-class province with the world-class energy it deserves — both now and in the future. Berkshire Hathaway Energy and AltaLink share six core principles, which define our values and vision today, and for the next 100 years.

  • Customer Service

    We are focused on delivering reliability, dependability, fair prices and exceptional service to our customers.

  • Employee Commitment

    We equip employees with the resources and support they need to be successful. We encourage teamwork and provide a safe, rewarding work environment. We make no compromise when it comes to safety.

  • Environmental Respect

    Natural resources are essential for the production of energy. We are committed to using these resources wisely and protecting our environment for the benefit of future generations.

  • Regulatory Integrity

    We adhere to a policy of strict regulatory compliance and pursue frequent, open communication with regulators regarding our business performance.

  • Operational Excellence

    Together with our employees, we pride ourselves on excellence in every aspect of our work. Our high standards for operations and system maintenance enable us to meet and exceed our customers’ expectations, perform our work safely, and preserve our assets.

  • Financial Strength

    We are excellent stewards of our financial resources. Berkshire Hathaway Energy invests in hard assets and focuses on long-term opportunities that will contribute to the future strength of the global group of companies.

We’re delivering greener power

Wind. Natural gas. Solar. Coal. Hydro. Biomass. When it comes to sources of energy, Alberta’s electricity market is as dynamic and diverse as its population. Our province needs a strong, reliable transmission grid to make sure this energy gets to you.

As the people of our province continue to create opportunities in developing alternative energy solutions, AltaLink will be there to connect them to the grid without fail. From a wind farm in Pincher Creek to hydro on the Bow, from the natural gas plants in central Alberta to the co-generators throughout the province, more than 16,000 megawatts of generation capacity throughout Alberta is connected together by the provincial transmission system.

For evidence of the positive shift in Alberta’s growing, and greener, generation mix you just need to take a look at some of the statistics from the Alberta Electric System Operator:

  • Driven primarily by new gas and wind generation plants, the total generation capacity in Alberta increased 11 per cent to 16,115 megawatts in 2014.
  • For the first time in Alberta, total installed capacity of gas-fired generation, including cogeneration, exceeded that of coal generation in 2014.
  • Wind generation comprised nine per cent of the total installed generation capacity in Alberta in 2014.*

* AESO 2014 Market Statistics

Just like Albert did, the people of our province are demanding a greener future for Alberta and Canada. At AltaLink, we believe our province should lead the charge when it comes to the development and diversity of our energy generation sources. In fact, AltaLink’s transmission system is essential to enabling greener generation sources access to the grid and to customers. We completed a number of projects in the last several years that will bring new wind generation to the homes, farms and businesses throughout Alberta. These new transmission lines also remove the barrier for continued growth of greener sources of power years into the future.

As our province moves forward, AltaLink will be there — providing the kind of innovative solutions growth is built on.

Our future starts today

At AltaLink, we always have an eye towards the grid of the future — not only in satisfying our current needs but in laying the groundwork for meeting tomorrow’s needs as well. We’re stepping up with innovation and new technologies, especially in those areas that decrease strain on the system in an environmentally friendly and sustainable way.

As our transmission system is the essential link that connects Alberta’s electricity generators to cities, towns, businesses and industries across our geographically diverse province, we can’t afford not to innovate. Millions of Albertans rely on us to do so.

What does the grid of the future mean for you? It means you will continue to enjoy efficient and reliable energy transmission for generations to come.

The grid of the future isn’t just for tomorrow, it starts here and now. Check out some of the ways we’re powering possibilities with our transmission system today:

More wires on fewer structures results in a smaller footprint

A prime example of how we look for ways to reduce our footprint is found in our North Foothills Transmission Project. We were tasked with building a new transmission line to connect wind power to the grid, in the same area a transmission line already existed. In this case, instead of building the lines side-by-side, we were able to move the wires from the existing line to the new line, needing only one set of transmission structures and reducing our footprint. The result was 60 fewer acres of land used for the new line.

A communications system that makes the grid smarter

Our Control Centre Operators are behind the scenes, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days of the year, monitoring the real-time operation of the electricity transmission system to make sure power is getting where it’s needed. Our communications system is a complex arrangement of telecommunications facilities, radio, fiber optic and satellite transport systems that are in constant communication. This system allows us to restore power at a remote site from our Control Centre when there is trouble on the grid, reducing the duration of outages. It also won a Utilities Telecom Council Apex Award years ago, and has continued to grow ever since.

New technology makes the backbone of our system scalable

Later in 2015, we’re going to energize our new Western Alberta Transmission Line, a 350-kilometre link between the Edmonton and Calgary areas, and one of Alberta’s first applications of Direct Current, or DC, technology. This line is scalable; meaning the amount of power that flows through the line can be increased simply by adding equipment at the converter stations at both ends of the line. This reduces the need to build another transmission line across agricultural land in the future when the demand for power grows.

Want to know more? Learn about these projects and many more here.

Why we put you first

We know we don’t have a business without customers, and our growth and success is measured on our ability to serve you.

Our new partnership with Berkshire Hathaway Energy has been a boon to our efforts of continually improving our customers’ experiences. Berkshire Hathaway Energy’s focus on customer service and top-tier results allows us to improve ours by leveraging the expertise they’ve built working on the world stage. As we go forward, we’ll be looking for opportunities to improve as a company, and part of that is listening to you — our valued customer. Through our Voice of the Customer feedback program we know our customers demand a reliable, affordable and safe transmission system. This understanding drives us to continuously improve by developing new programs and initiatives to benefit all electricity customers.

Driving cost savings for customers through innovation

Innovation is making a big difference in how we build new transmission projects. We call it value engineering, and for a second year in a row in 2014, we realized $100 million in cost savings through it. We’re all set to see savings this year, too. How does it work in action? Recently through some creative thinking, AltaLink identified an alternate solution to connect a new line to the grid, eliminating the need for a substation and saving the customer more than $20 million. Another example includes two projects we energized with modular substations, made of pre-fabricated parts, resulting in a 10 15 per cent cost savings over the traditional substation design.

Reducing the time it takes to connect

We have heard the concerns our customers have on the length of time it takes to connect to the grid. Compared to 2012, we’ve seen a number of improvements on AltaLink’s 2014 connection times, including an average 30 per cent reduction in connection time for substations.

Providing options to our customers

AltaLink also offers customers with connection options through the family of services we call MPower. The high degree of collaboration between the customer and AltaLink, especially in the early stages of a project, has proven to reduce connection times. Whether it’s by reducing costs or innovating during the construction, operation, and maintenance of our transmission facilities, it benefits our customers.

Beating the average in reliable service

One of the most important things to our customers is uninterrupted power service. Power outages can be costly and detrimental to businesses. As a result, we’re focused on the reliability of our system and consistently beat the national average by providing 25 to 30 per cent more reliable service, based on the Canadian Electricity Association’s statistics.

Reliable service, cost-effective power options, transparency and communication — we’re focused on delivering what our customers need.

Powering possibilities in your community

Whether it’s empowering women through technology, inventing a new eco-friendly product or launching a world-class ballet, AltaLink wants all Albertans to have the opportunity to make their goals a reality. Providing reliable energy is one way we can help, but the way we’re most proud of is through our commitment to Alberta’s communities.

Our vision is to be the leader in supporting initiatives that power possibilities for Alberta’s youth. Made possible by new funding from Berkshire Hathaway Energy, our community investment program, Linked to our Communities, is focused on empowering young people across the province through sport, science, agriculture and more. We know that when you support the youth of today, you ensure the leaders, innovators and artists of tomorrow.

Here are some recent highlights from our Linked to our Communities program:

Birdies for Kids presented by AltaLink

Birdies for Kids is a fundraising program designed to give youth-based charities an opportunity to generate contributions through flat donations or based on the number of birdies made by Champions Tour players during the Shaw Charity Classic. Participating charities receive 100 per cent of every donation collected on their behalf and, through our matching program, receive extra funding of up to 50 per cent of collected donations. In 2015, nearly 100 youth-based charities across Alberta received millions in extra funding, and as a result, were able to increase their impact in a tough economic year in our province.

Alberta Indigenous Games

From July 12-16 in Edmonton, The Alberta Indigenous Games brought together youth from across Alberta to engage in one week of competitive sports, traditional games, special events, education and cultural connection with the theme of “Coaching Youth for Life, Career and Sport.”

And these are only two of our new partnerships announced this year, with more to come. We also have long-standing partnerships with Alberta 4-H, the United Way and post-secondary institutions through our scholarship programs.

To learn more about Linked to our Communities or to request sponsorship, click here.

It’s all about our people

A company is only as good as the people who work there, and we have some of the very best. For us, it’s always been about our culture. We make sure that when you walk through our hallways or are out in the field, you see what makes us who we are — people working together safely, respectfully and with integrity.

Last year we were honoured to be recognized nationally as one of Waterstone Human Capital’s 10 Most Admired Corporate Cultures. This came on the heels of the Canadian Electricity Association’s recognition of AltaLink as a Sustainable Electricity Company™, the first transmission company in Canada to receive the award.

Our people made these possibilities real, and we thank them for being a part of our team.

Focused on safety

We can’t talk about our people without talking about safety. It’s at the core of who we are and is top of mind in everything we do. In the last two years we’ve had some great successes on the safety front.

  • Our employees worked 2,899,341 hours without a lost time incident throughout 2013 and 2014.
  • In November 2014, AltaLink received the Canadian Electricity Association’s Vice President’s Award of Excellence for Employee Safety for our 2013 safety record.
  • Our safety performance continues to be better than the Canadian Electricity Association’s national average for transmission companies year-over-year.
Employee engagement

Every two years, we ask our employees how we’re doing through an Employee Engagement survey. For the last several years, our results have been among the best in Canada, and 2013 was no different: we received a 95 per cent participation rate and an 83 per cent overall engagement score.

If you think you’d be a great fit at AltaLink, head on over to our careers page to see what opportunities await.

Thank You

Thank you for taking the time to learn about some local empowering Albertans and read this year’s Report to Communities. If you have any questions or feedback, please fill out the form below.