February 18th, 2015 ~ Vol. 85 No. 7
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Stakeholders clash over AltaLink's new line through Crowsnest Pass
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
Stock photo
Power lines in Crowsnest Pass
EZRA BLACK
Pass Herald Reporter
Tempers flared at information sessions in Cowley and Lundbreck last week as AltaLink unveiled a second possible route for the Castle Rock Ridge to Chapel Rock power line.
AltaLink had been pushing for the line to take a northerly route from a substation just above Pincher Station, west to Cowley and north to an existing high-voltage line.
But after fierce resistance from local landowners the company is proposing the line run parallel to an existing line from the Goose Lake Substation, west to Burmis, across Highway 3 and into the Pass.
“It’s divide and conquer,” said local landowner Arlene Mitschke at the information session in Cowley, “They’re pitting neighbour against neighbour and that shouldn’t be allowed to happen.”
“I hope they’re still trying to convince us that this line is needed to my great, great grandchildren,” she added.
In a letter to Premier Jim Prentice the Livingston Landowners Group (LLG) said the project would have sustained negative agricultural and environmental impacts to the area. It also said the project would violate the South South Saskatchewan Regional Plan (SSRP), which states that new development should minimize landscape fragmentation and be concentrated in existing built-up areas.
“AltaLink's new route options violates the SSRP and would further fragment and industrialize the LLG landscape,” said the letter. “Part of the new route option impinges on an important wildlife corridor and natural habitat whose protection has been the subject of significant investment by Albertans, the Southern Alberta Land Trust Society, the Nature Conservancy of Canada, and the Government of Alberta.”
The LLG also questioned whether the new line is needed as ongoing changes in the energy sector have resulted in re-evaluation and cancelation of other transmission projects that were previously considered necessary.
Tuesday night in Cowley, Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO) spokesperson Mike Deising said the project is necessary because the increasing number of wind turbines in the region need a more robust transmission system.
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With the projected construction of new turbines, Deising said local wind farms could soon be generating over 1000 megawatts.
“We put the milestone [for new infrastructure] at 600 megawatts and there’s already over 400 megawatts constructed with 600 megawatts projected. So that moves us well over the limit,” he said. “That’s what triggered this project to move forward and why the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) approved it.”
Also present was Retired scientist David McIntyre who said AltaLink is setting itself up for business as usual without regard for one of Canada’s most scenic landscapes.
“Alberta has embraced the destruction of a true world-class landscape,” he said. “We still have it, we still have enough that we could market it but we don’t seem to know what we have. We don’t seem capable of protecting this place which is worth billions of dollars if we just save it and use it in the most appropriate way.”
Peter Brodsky, manager of external communications for AltaLink, said they do not take these concerns lightly. He said the company is offering information packages and one-on-one consultations to stakeholders.
The Castle Rock Ridge to Chapel Rock power line is part of a larger infrastructure project called the Southwest Alberta Transmission Reinforcement (SATR) plan.
The first stage of SATR is expected to cost up to $750 million, which would pay for a new substation and up to 54 kilometres of power lines.
If approved the Castle Rock Ridge to Chapel Rock power line would require right-of-ways between 70 and 120 meters wide depending on whether they choose a single-circuit or double-circuit structure for the line.
The double-circuit towers range in height from 44 to 75 meters with about 365 metres of space between them.
AltaLink has the autumn of 2015 pegged as a file application date with the AUC. If approved, construction would begin in early 2017 with completion in fall 2018.
AltaLink has scheduled an additional information session to be held Wednesday, February 25 at Elks Hall in Blairmore from 3 to 7 p.m.
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February 18th ~ Vol. 85 No. 7
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