Landowners, AltaLink remain at odds over need for new power line

The question of who may be telling more of the truth continues to surface at meetings centring on a proposed high-capacity transmission line that would run through Central Alberta.

The question of who may be telling more of the truth continues to surface at meetings centring on a proposed high-capacity transmission line that would run through Central Alberta.

A landowners group and an independent transmission company both held meetings in Rimbey this week to talk about whether a 500 kV direct current transmission line is needed between the plant at Genesee and the hamlet of Langdon, 16 kilometres east of Calgary.

The reasons for the project have Lavesta Area Group at odds with Calgary-based AltaLink.

AltaLink held an open house on Thursday attended by about 135 people trying to be informed on the line that could affect them personally.

Dick Osokin, who lives northeast of Rimbey, said one of the proposed routes could run diagonally through his quarter section.

“They’re just trying to sell a product,” said Osokin, after leaving AltaLink’s session.

Osokin said he’s leaning towards believing Lavesta Area Group’s head organizer, Joe Anglin, who spoke to a local crowd on Tuesday.

“He’s been in this battle with these people for quite a while,” Osokin said.

“They’re (AltaLink) is trying to say this power is for Calgary. . . that they had to shut off Christmas lights off last year because they didn’t have enough power.” But he said relatives who lived in the affected area didn’t have any power outages.

“We have more than enough generation down south to fulfill the demand now and projected,” said Anglin of Rimbey. “The argument that there are going to be blackouts, or that the system is critical, just doesn’t fly.”

Anglin said he’s not totally against the transmission line, but cost is a huge concern. “We have to separate what we need from what industry needs to export.”

Through some documents it has obtained, including a 2006 Canada-Northwest-California transmission options study, the group claims some of the power being produced in Alberta would eventually be sold to California.

Alberta Electric System Operator, an independent organization that identifies the needs for transmission lines but doesn’t build them, has indicated two multibillion-dollar transmission lines are needed along the Edmonton-Calgary corridor, one of which would run through a corridor that straddles Hwy 2 while the other would be strung along a route further east and roughly in line with Castor and Hanna. AltaLink would only build one line.

Jeff Nash, director of forecasting for AESO, said the lines are needed to meet demands across Southern Alberta. “Demand for electricity is growing about three per cent each year,” he said. Nash added the long-term transmission plan is built on forecast needs for Albertans.

Leigh Clarke, senior vice-president of external engagement for AltaLink, said the transmission line would replace a system that was on average built nearly four decades ago.

“We’ve added about a million people since then, we’ve doubled the consumption of power and we’re really putting stress on that system,” Clarke said. Clarke said it’s important to make the system reliable.

As well, it’s important to ensure there’s enough room on the system for all generators (coal, hydro, gas, wind) to access.

And that will keep costs down, he added. AltaLink’s final open house will occur on Monday from 4-8 p.m. at the Olds College Alumni Building.

ltester@bprda.wpengine.com