Auditor general to probe bureaucrat
Joining a growing chorus of grievances involving a proposed high-voltage power line, the province’s auditor general will now investigate a top-level government bureaucrat.
Auditor Fred Dunn told Metro that he will look into allegations from the New Democrats that an energy department official may be involved in a serious conflict of interest that compromises ongoing public hearings.
Kellan Fluckiger, who manages the province’s electrical division, wrote a letter of support for a proposed 500-kilovolt power line between Edmonton and Calgary — even though his wife is currently a vice-president for a company pitching to build the project to the Alberta Energy and Utilities Board (AEUB).
“We will not be ignoring it,” Dunn said. “All I’ve got right now is an allegation so we’ll have to look at the system and process by which they handled this matter.”
New Democrat Leader Brian Mason said he'll await the result of the auditor's findings before deciding if he'll ask for any resignations.
“If this conflict of interest is shown to be valid, then it really calls into the question the entire process for the approval of this particular line,” he said.
“It casts a shadow over the AEUB’s hearings with respect to the whole project.”
Fluckiger’s spouse, Zora Lazic, is in charge of AltaLink’s regulatory approval, paid through a contract that awards bonuses based upon performance, Mason said. He also signed a conflict of interest amendment to his government contract in October 2006.
Energy spokesman Jason Chance, speaking on behalf of Fluckiger, disputed all the allegations from the New Democrats that are now before the auditor general.
“We would welcome any further review of the matter because, as we said earlier, the department has done its due diligence to ensure that there’s no conflict of interest,” he said.
The letter Fluckiger wrote on June 15 to the utilities board in support of the power line project, he said, reflects the department’s point-of-view, not his own.
It was also in support of the project in general, not AltaLink’s specific proposal, he added.
three more probes