April 18th, 2018 ~ Vol. 89 No. 16
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AltaLink holds two workshops
Chapel Rock to Pincher Creek Area Transmission Development
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
Archive photo
ANNA KROUPINA
Pass Herald Reporter
AltaLink hosted two community workshops on April 10 and 11 to explain and receive public feedback on the new Chapel Rock to Pincher Creek Area Transmission Development project.

AltaLink has been directed by the Alberta Energy System Operator (AESO) to develop 40 to 50 km of new transmission line to connect renewable energy generated in the Pincher Creek area to the British Columbia intertie. This involves building a brand new substation – called Chapel Rock - somewhere west of Highway 22 and connecting it with one of the two existing substations north of Pincher Creek, the Goose Lake substation or the Castle Rock Ridge substation.

Originally AltaLink had started a similar project in October 2014 and hosted several workshops. They have since been directed by AESO to desist work on that development and instead prepare an application for this new project, entitled the Chapel Rock to Pincher Creek Area Transmission Development.

AltaLink hosted last weekend’s workshop to hear the public’s concerns regarding the project and provide feedback on transmission structure types, but the public was more concerned with the project's raison d'être in the first place, questioning whether such a project is even needed.

According to Darcy Fedorchuk, Vice President, Projects with AltaLink, the need for the project has not changed since 2014, but the approach has, hence the necessity for a brand new development proposal.
continued below ...
In 2015, the provincial government set a target for Alberta to serve 30 percent of electric energy from renewables by 2030, setting a need to increase the capacity of the transmission lines in the Pincher Creek area, which has shown strong potential and developer interest for wind and solar energy development.

With Southern Alberta having some of the best wind and solar resources in the province, this created a need in the area to increase transmission accommodation for the new wind energy coming onto the grid.

"There is about 2,600 megawatts of transmission capacity in this renewable-rich area,” says Jerry Mossing, VP Transmission with the AESO. “That is being chewed up and at this rate, it'll be gone in three years. We're running a competitive auction and we have to plan to accommodate more. The generation in the south and east areas often exceeds the local load and that surplus goes back onto the grid. What we see over the long haul is that continues to drive a need for new emission transmission development in those areas.”

The AESO currently has 28 applications for wind development projects between the border with British Columbia and Lethbridge, and there is strong evidence towards this trend continuing.

"A day is coming when renewable wind and solar is going to be so cheap that people are going to want to connect. I don't know when that is, but it looks like that's happening,” says Fedorchuk. “Technologies are evolving, getting more efficient and becoming less costly. The fuel supply in Alberta is changing. Renewable and natural gas are expected to increase significantly while coal decreases over the long term. The costs for both technologies are dropping.”
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According to Fedorchuk, the 2014 project was cancelled in response to renewable energy projects not progressing as quickly as the AESO predicted. However, with the government’s Renewable Electricity Program to commit to 30 percent renewables by 2030, this has spurred a renewed surge of development applications and the AESO predicts the system will start running out of capacity by 2023.

That’s why the parameters of this new Chapel Rock to Pincher Creek project have changed.

So in essence, the previous project has been revised and reinvented and refurbished to provide a solution to the prior need in a new way.
“AESO has changed the technical solution to meet the need, so we have a new project. What has changed this time around is the approach that AltaLink is able to take with the project. In order to meet technical requirements, we have new options and things to consider that we weren’t able to consider previously," says Dave.

First of all, after determining from the Chapel Rock to Castle Rock Ridge consultation process that the southern route seemed the most favourable among the public, they determined that a transmission line can connect to either the already-existing Castle Rock Ridge or the Goose Lake substations north of Pincher Creek, as opposed to only the Castle Rock Ridge as was previously planned.

The new project also gives AltaLink the opportunity to complete the project in a phased approach using milestones, where capacity would be increased when a certain generation amount is reached and once again once a second generation amount is reached.

"You would ultimately still have two circuits, one built in the near future and one built further down the road, based on generation milestones. As more generation comes online in the area, we would match transmission to meet those milestones,” says Fedorchuk.

So as Renewable Electricity Program auctions continue and transmission capacity decreases, it will trigger the construction of one of the two circuits and as that capacity gets used up, it will trigger the second circuit.
continued below ...
This allowed AltaLink to explore different options for transmission structure types that they were not able to explore on past iterations.
On the past project, they proposed the steel lattice double circuit transmission tower. Now, they have the ability to look at building either two single circuit structures or a single double circuit structure.

At the workshop, AltaLink displayed renderings of the various transmission tower options next to existing towers to give relative sale in structure height and width, road allowance and right-of-way width.
To learn more about transmission tower options, to access the online community workshop and to provide feedback, visit letstalkchapelrock.com.

AltaLink expects to file a facility application development with the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) by early summer 2019. Installation of the first circuit is expected between 2022 and 2023 and the second between 2027 to 2029.

CONCERNS

From 2014 to 2015, AltaLink liaised with over 400 stakeholders and held eight public events as part of the consultation phase for the Chapel Rock to Castle Rock Ridge project. From those consultations, the public expressed that they would like a potential transmission line to follow existing corridors and linear infrastructure, and concerns about impacts on wildlife and grasslands, visual impacts, declining property values, the possibility of an underground transmission line and generally questioning the need for project.
continued below ...
Many of these same concerns were expressed throughout last weekend’s workshop.

AltaLink has indicated that while they have considered an underground transmission, they do not consider it to be a feasible solution. There may be small sections of underground lines, but not en masse. According to Fedorchuk, underground transmission would be up to 10 times more expensive than overhead power lines, has the potential to be more detrimental to the environment, has a much larger work area and underground cables to not have as long of a shelf life as overhead transmission.

Rick, who attended the workshop, expressed that this project worked only to the benefit of the provincial government and at the expense of locals.

"Will ratepayers see a return? We’re going to be paying for this power, but our power bill is still rising," he said.

Environmental concerns were explicitly expressed, and many noted the importance of following existing corridors so as to lessen the disturbance level as much as possible.

“One of my hopes is that they are going to draw up a map showing all the environmentally-sensitive areas so that it's transparent and everyone can see where they are," said Donna.

Another participant was concerned how transmission lines, even developed to linear disturbance, would impact the Rock Creek multi-species wildlife corridor between Burmis and Lundbreck.

Mayor Blair Painter and Councillor Dean Ward with the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass attended the workshop and both saw major flaws in the project, expressing concerns about cost, need for the project and efficiency of renewable energy.

Mayor Painter questioned AltaLink's and AESO's lack of a long-term strategic vision for the energy network in Southern Alberta.

"I've seen a map of Southern Alberta with all the transmission lines and it's a spider web. There is no regard to maintain a corridor. It's as though the quickest and cheapest route is selected," he says. "A 20-year plan is not long enough. They should know where all the lines will go for the next 100 years," said Mayor Painter, adding that AltaLink is out of order in the process and should determine a route prior to focusing on structure types.

According to AltaLink, they will compile the input gathered at the workshops and use it when determining routing and structure options. Another open house is anticipated to take place in late spring 2018.
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April 18th, 2018 ~ Vol. 89 No. 16
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