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AltaLink’s wildfire mitigation addresses fire risk in Crowsnest Pass

Nicholas L. M. Allen

May 22, 2024

As wildfires become increasingly severe and frequent, AltaLink is taking proactive measures to mitigate risks, particularly in high fire risk areas like Crowsnest Pass.

Last year in Canada, wildfires burned an estimated 18.5 million hectares of land, an area three times the size of Nova Scotia and eight times the annual average over the past 25 years. 

In Alberta, a record setting year included more than two million hectares burned, almost the average for the entire country. 

While according to Alberta Wildfire, fewer than 10% of the total wildfires in Alberta were started by electricity infrastructure, AltaLink is committed to reducing the likelihood that its infrastructure may contribute to the ignition of a catastrophic wildfire.

Scott Schreiner, vice president of external engagement at AltaLink, oversees corporate communications, consultation, and indigenous relations for the company. He highlighted AltaLink’s intensified efforts in wildfire prevention following a record-setting year of wildfires in Alberta.

“Last year, more than two million hectares were burned, almost reaching the national average for an entire year,” Schreiner said, “In response, AltaLink has ramped up its wildfire mitigation plan to minimize the risk of our transmission system contributing to wildfires.”

AltaLink has had a wildfire mitigation plan in place since 2019, which includes, as a last resort safety measure, a Public Safety Power Shutoff. During times of extreme fire risk when a catastrophic fire could be easily ignited and quickly spread, AltaLink may activate a Public Safety Power Shutoff, deenergizing our transmission lines to prevent the likelihood of them contributing to the ignition of a fire.

“Before reaching the point of a Public Safety Power Shutoff, we take several preventive steps,” Schreiner explained, “We increase inspections on our lines, manage vegetation, and replace materials with less flammable alternatives, such as switching from wood to steel cross arms.”

To prepare for potential power shutoffs, Schreiner advises residents to have essential supplies on hand. 

“It’s always wise to be ready for an outage that could last up to 72 hours. This includes having water, food, medications, and charged batteries available,” said Schreiner, “Whether due to a planned Public Safety Power Shutoff or a storm-induced outage, the same preparedness rules apply.”

Schreiner emphasized the importance of staying informed and recommended people in high-risk areas follow AltaLink on social media and check their website for updates during any Public Safety Power Shutoff. 

“We will be in constant communication with the community to provide the latest information,” said Schreiner.

AltaLink’s wildfire mitigation plan has been evolving since its inception in 2019. Schreiner described the development as a natural progression, particularly after the devastating wildfires around Edson and Drayton Valley last year, which led to considerable damage and required extensive repairs to the transmission system.

“We were the first utility in Canada to implement a wildfire mitigation plan,” said Schreiner, “Last year, the wildfire activity was so extreme that at one point, we had 16 different lines out of service and needed to replace or repair over 250 transmission poles or towers.”

Despite the utility system not contributing to the major fires last year, most were caused by lightning, Schreiner stressed the importance of reducing any potential risk. 

“Less than 10 per cent of the wildfires in Alberta last year were related to utility operations, but given the high stakes, we aim to minimize that risk as much as possible.”

AltaLink will be increasing our communications in three high fire-risk areas (Bow Valley, Crowsnest and Cadomin) where a Public Safety Power Shutoff may be required, including print media in local papers, radio advertising, social media updates, and a postal code mailer to residents. The targeted advertising will run for two weeks and then again in September, typically the highest risk months for wildfire here in Alberta.

For more information on AltaLink’s wildfire mitigation efforts, residents can visit their dedicated webpage at

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