October 23rd, 2019 ~ Vol. 89 No. 43
Alta Link information night
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
Archive photo
David Selles
Pass Herald Reporter
Alta Link will be hosting an information session at the MDM Center on Tuesday, October 29th from 11am-7pm.

Vice President of External Engagement for Alta Link, Scott Schreiner, says there is information that the public should know.

“We're talking about some of the work that we're doing to try and mitigate the risk of wildfires as a result of the transmission systems through the Crowsnest Pass area. We want people to come in and learn a little bit about what we're doing to try and mitigate against wildfires. We're doing what we can to try and limit the ability for the system to be the cause of one of those fires.”

Schreiner says there are many steps they take to ensure they lower the risk of wildfires.

“It includes a bunch of pieces. Everything from hardening the system which means changing out some of the components to make them more resistant to wildfires, increasing inspections along the line so that we know if there is damaged equipment or trees getting too close to the line and increasing general vegetation management to try and keep the right of ways more clear.”

There is also one other step Alta Link would take if a chance of a wildfire increased.

“If everything becomes extreme related to a fire weather index and wind gusts and the potential of a fire is extreme, we would go to the step to actually de-energize the power lines that supply the power to the Crowsnest Pass. Obviously that's a last resort and not a decision we would take lightly but we want to talk to people about what we're doing and to try and protect the safety of the community.”
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On the off chance de-energizing would occur, Schreiner says there will be notice given to the public.

“We've got a criteria that needs to be met before we start considering that de-energizing. We look on seven-day windows. Every day we have a seven-day outlook to say where we expect the fire weather index to be at and what the weather forecasts would be in the area. We have weather stations monitoring in the area and things like that. We would begin notifying first responders if it looked like there was potential seven days in advance. We'd start notifying the community somewhere in the neighborhood of 48 hours in advance as well as closer to the actual de-energizing of the lines. We don't want to frighten anyone and create a whole lot of unrest because it's Alberta weather and lots can change in the space of a couple of days.”

Schreiner says they would also notify the public when the power would be coming back on but that the area would be looked at before turning the power back on to ensure there is no debris on the lines.

According to Schreiner, de-energizing of the lines is uncommon.

“We looked back over the last seven years based on the criteria that we've got into how many times it would've gotten into the protocol of a public safety power shut off and it was twice and each time was for only about an hour.”
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Some work has already begun to ensure the chances of a wildfire are limited.

“We're already doing some of the preventative work. We want to do as much preventative stuff as we can. We've been fortunate this year that it's been pretty wet so the fire risk right now is low. We're not foreseeing anything in the near future where we would get near to doing any kind of de-energizing,” said Schreiner.

Schreiner also says it’s a year-round effort.

“Alberta Wildfire actually qualifies Alberta's wildfire season as from March 1st to October 31st so it's most of the year. Some of the most extreme times can be during the dead of winter because if we get a winter that doesn't have snow, it can get really dry really fast and if the wind picks up everything is still flammable and the risk is still there. The work that we would do is to obviously prevent it year round but it's at the peak from March 1st to October 31st.”

Interested residents can learn more at the information session on Tuesday, October 29th from 11am-7pm.
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October 23rd, 2019 ~ Vol. 89 No. 43
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