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The Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO) has announced the five companies that will compete for the opportunity to build, finance, own and operate a major component of Alberta's transmission infrastructure from the Wabamun area to the Fort McMurray area.

According to the AESO, the Fort McMurray West 500 kV Transmission Project will consist of approximately 500 kilometers of transmission line and associated facilities and is needed to support increasing growth in northeastern Alberta.

The AESO says it received submissions from companies around the world, including Asia, Europe, South America and North America. Independent experts were brought in from across North America to evaluate, score and make a final recommendation to the AESO board. After an analysis of technical, financial and route development expertise, the five companies selected to enter the request for proposals stage are the following:

- Alberta PowerLine, owned by Canadian Utilities Ltd. and Quanta Capital Solutions Inc. Valard Construction LP would undertake design and construction work, and ATCO Electric Ltd. would be responsible for operating and maintaining the transmission facilities.

- Athabasca Transmission, owned by AltaLink LP and AEP Transmission Holding Co. LLC. Burns and McDonnell Canada Ltd. and SNC Lavalin T&D would design and construct the facilities, and AltaLink and AEP would be responsible for ongoing operations and maintenance.

- NorSpan Partners LP, owned by EPCOR Utilities Inc. and LS Power Associates LP. Kiewit Energy Canada Corp. and Sargent & Lundy LLC would undertake design and construction work, and EPCOR would be responsible for operating and maintaining the transmission facilities.

- TAMA Transmission LP, owned by MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co. and TransAlta. MidAmerican, through its wholly owned subsidiary MidAmerican Transmission, would undertake design and construction work, and TAMA would be responsible for ongoing operations and maintenance.

- TransCanada/Elecnor, owned by TransCanada PipeLines Ltd. and Elecnor S.A.  Elecnor would be responsible for the design and construction of the facilities, and TransCanada would be responsible for operating and maintaining the transmission facilities.

The AESO notes that it was mandated by the government of Alberta to develop a competitive process and have it approved by the provincial electricity regulator, the Alberta Utilities Commission. The AESO adds that it received approval from the regulator on Feb. 14, 2013, and will select a winning company in December. The target in-service date for the project is 2019.

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