October 31st, 2018 ~ Vol. 89 No. 44
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AltaLink unveils route proposals for Chapel Rock
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
Anna Kroupina Photo
Looking westwards just west of Burmis along Highway 3, this visual rendering shows what the proposed H-frame transmission structure would look like.
ANNA KROUPINA
Pass Herald Reporter
At open houses last week, AltaLink unveiled the proposed routes and substation locations for the Chapel Rock to Pincher Creek Area Transmission Development.

AltaLink is proposing between 35 and 60 km of new power lines to be constructed. Between 35 to 47 km will be a single-circuit 240kV transmission line connecting a new substation – to be called the Chapel Rock Substation - to one of two existing substations north of the Town of Pincher Creek, Goose Lake or Castle Rock Ridge. Altalink is considering steel H-frame and steel monopole structures for this line, which means it can go within road allowances and thereby opens up many more siting options.

Depending on the location of the substation, up to 13 km of additional new line would need to be built connecting the new substation to the existing 500 kV line (the 1201L Alberta/BC intertie) that is located west of Highway 22 and runs partially north of Crowsnest Pass.

Although Crowsnest Pass is part of the study area for the Chapel Rock to Pincher Creek Area Transmission Development, all proposed routes are within the MD of Pincher Creek at this time.

Another aspect of the project is to perform mandatory upgrades and an expansion on the existing Goose Lake Substation. Upgrades to the Castle Rock Substation would be required only if the new line connects to it.

The purpose of the entire transmission development is to connect renewable energy generated in the Pincher Creek area to the 1201L line, the main intertie with BC and centres in other parts of Alberta.

To inform residents and property owners and receive feedback, AltaLink and AESO held three open houses, one in Pincher Creek, Lundbreck and Cowley. The open houses showed posters and maps of the many route options for the power lines and identified seven possible locations for the new substation. Visual renderings depicted what the H-frame and monopole power lines would look like in different zones along the proposed routes.
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According to AltaLink, 23 people attended the open house in Pincher Creek, 32 in Cowley and 61 in Lundbreck.

The digital maps, visual renderings and more information on the project can be found on www.altalink.ca/chapelrock.

In speaking with residents, both in the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass and the MD of Pincher Creek, who attended the open houses, concerns for the environment and landscape rang strong with many.

Robert Anderson, a wildlife biologist, attended the open house in Pincher Creek as a concerned Crowsnest Pass resident.

From the standpoint of a Crowsnest Pass resident, Anderson’s concerns are more far-reaching than just the environmental impacts.

“We have Highway 3 and Highway 2, which are corridors that bring tourists to Crowsnest Pass. It's an amazing awe-inspiring trip when you come from the prairies into the mountains,” says Anderson. “We don’t want to see anything that negatively impacts that and, therefore, potentially impacts our tourists that we’re trying to build for that tourism industry in Crowsnest Pass."

Although he sees social, environmental and economic implications that result from any and all of the proposed transmission routes, Anderson says it's important to move forward in a way that is going to minimize those impacts.

“This is one of those tradeoffs with developing wind energy in this area. There's been a big push to create wind energy in this part of the province and this is one of those sides of that industry that’s just a reality. We've made our bed and now we have to lie in it,” says Anderson. “I think the most important question is not whether it should be going ahead at this point, it’s how it goes ahead and how they do it in a way that’s going to minimize the environmental impact but also take into consideration the social, safety and economic factors to come up with the best option.”
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From a property owner’s perspective, the environmental risks are compounded with concerns for the fate of their property. Notification packages were sent to property owners within 800 metres of the potential substation sites and routes. According to AltaLink, they sent out approximately 925 packages.

Anderson's parents have property west of Cowley, within 800 m of a proposed route, which they have enhanced to encourage wildlife to use and, now, regularly see ferruginous hawks and many other species attracted to their property. They are concerned that any disturbance will significantly impact wildlife and increase their risk of colliding with the lines and dying.

A property owner on Chapel Rock Road, along which one of the proposed routes runs directly, says she is “sick to her stomach” in thinking about how the power lines will affect their property value, their quality of life and the surrounding wildlife.

She and her husband were preparing to build an artist retreat this coming summer but, now, with their property targeted as a route, she says they don’t know what to do.

“We’re rethinking it because of the fact that if this line goes on our property, there are not only environmental and health concerns, but the value on our property is zero and our 30-year dream is now down the toilet. So we are in a place that if that line goes through, we have a piece of property that is virtually useless and has no value to it,” said the property owner, who did not wish to be identified.

She also has fears about the noise emitted from the power lines.

AltaLink acknowledges that powerlines do emit a noise – describing it as “a crackle and a lower frequency buzz” - that can be more noticeable in rainy or foggy weather. The Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC), the energy regulator, sets and enforces requirements regarding noise associated with utility infrastructure. AltaLink says the company engineers their lines to AUC standards.
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Amanda Sadleir with AltaLink says that they are striving to balance the impacts on the environment and wildlife while still maintaining the system and meeting the needs set out by the Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO).

“We strive to balance our operations while maintaining the safety and reliability of our electric system and we will be completing an environmental evaluation for this project. An environmental evaluation identifies environmental features in the project area through existing data and field surveys,” she says. “Additional information is gathered from consultation with provincial and federal regulators, landowners and the public. This information is used to assist in route development. Potential effects from project impacts are identified so that mitigations can be developed to minimize or eliminate these effects.”

The next open house, presenting refined route options, substation locations and structure types, is expected to take place in the spring, and the consultation phase will continue through the summer. AltaLink hopes to file a facilities application in fall 2019 and, if approved, begin construction in fall 2020. Construction is expected to take two to three years to complete. The AUC is the body responsible for making the final decision on route selection.

Consulting firm Jacob’s will be conducting an independent environmental assessment on the proposed lines that be submitted as part of the facilities application to the AUC.

At the request of Crowsnest Pass Mayor Blair Painter, open houses will be held in Blairmore at the Kanata Inn on November 6 and 7, 11-7 p.m. Representatives from AltaLink and AESO will be available and residents can stop in to provide feedback and ask questions.

Anyone who was unable to attend one of the public events can contact AltaLink at 1-877-269-5903 to provide feedback or book a one-on-one consultation.
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October 31st, 2018 ~ Vol. 89 No. 44
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