Information session set into proposed power line

An information session is set for Wednesday on a power line project for the Red Deer area that has drawn objections from some West Park residents.

An information session is set for Wednesday on a power line project for the Red Deer area that has drawn objections from some West Park residents.

Several families in the Wiltshire Boulevard previously expressed concern that AltaLink’s preferred route would mean cutting through a stand of mature trees. They fear the transmission line will be an eyesore and lower property values.

Bob Stevenson said a number of residents want to see the line buried for the short distance needed to preserve the trees.

Failing that, a better route should be explored, although alternate paths suggested by residents have been rejected by the company previously.

Stevenson said he and a number of his neighbours have filed written submissions against the project.

“We’re doing as much as we can,” he said.

Stevenson said he’d like to see the power company’s plans go to a public hearing “if that’s what it takes.”

Alternative routes suggested by residents have been rejected by the company, they say.

The small detour from the existing right-of-way was required, says AltaLink, because a resident built a garage under the power line in the 1970s.

AltaLink does not want to build a new line over an existing home.

The West Park section is part of a 71-km line overhaul planned from Benalto through Red Deer to Nova Chemicals at Joffre.

Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) spokesman Jim Law said the information session will give residents an opportunity to view plans and find out how they can provide input, for or against, the project. Written submissions must be provided to the AUC by Nov. 18.

Law said AUC officials will be on hand to discuss the process for reviewing the project and the opportunities available for filing a submission or applying for intervenor funding for experts or legal counsel.

“We can’t discuss the merits of the application,” he said.

Before making a decision, the commission will look at both the preferred and alternate routes proposed and will determine which is in the public interest.

“They look at environmental, economic and social impacts of proposed lines and substations.”

Law said just because a route is preferred doesn’t mean that will be the route approved and encouraged.

“I think sometimes people assume that the preferred route is almost guaranteed to be chosen. That is not so.”

The AUC will approve, approve with conditions or deny an application.

A public hearing will likely be ordered if there is “any significant or unresolved concerns,” he said.

Another stage of the project will see new substations built in Ponoka, Innisfail and Didsbury as well as about 35 km of lines in those areas.

The need for the project was approved by the AUC in April of 2012.

“That was based on projected growth in the Red Deer area,” he said, adding upgrading was needed to ensure reliability.

The information session starts at 7 p.m. and will be held at Sheraton Red Deer Hotel.

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com