AltaLink is proposing a 240-kilovolt power line connecting substations near Red Deer and Alix to improve reliability.
The Alberta Electric System Operator has determined the existing transmission system in the area is reaching its limits and a new power line is needed to meet future electricity demands and to allow additional generation to come on line.
AltaLink has been given the job of building the line, which will connect substations just northeast of Red Deer and about 10 kilometres east of Alix.
Four potential routes have been roughly mapped out in an information package that went out to anyone potentially affected within one kilometre of any of the routes earlier this month.
Anyone within 100 metres of any of the routes will be contacted directly by AltaLink, said John Grove, a municipal and community relations manager with the company, in a presentation to Lacombe County Council on Friday.
The initial routes are computer generated after information such as residences, schools, cemeteries and water bodies have been inputted.
Those routes will be boiled down into a preferred and alternate route after public consultation. A pair of open houses have already been set up. The first will take place on Feb. 20 at the Alix Community Hall from 5 to 8 p.m. The following evening, at the same time, an open house will be held at the Balmoral Community Hall in Red Deer County.
The potential impact on landowners varies depending on what sort of transmission tower will be used and where it will be located. For instance, single-pole towers are often located in road rights-of-way and typically require less private property. Large lattice-style towers must run through the centre of agricultural sections.
“We’re going to talk to landowners and get a feeling for what they would like,” Grove told county council.
A number of factors are taken into account when picking preferred and alternate routes, including agriculture land uses, environmental considerations, residential density, existing infrastructure, such as pipelines, the future potential to connect to other transmission projects and cost.
Once the route options have been chosen, they will be taken back to the public in another round of consultation, likely in the summer or fall.
The Alberta Utilities Commission, which must approve the final route, decides what weight to give each of the factors before making its decision.
Coun. John Ireland is among those who is potentially affected because of the location of land he owns.
Ireland said he has not heard anything from residents yet about the proposed power line. But these sorts of projects can be difficult to place because neighbouring landowners may have very different ideas about where they would like to see the towers.
“It has the potential to pit neighbour against neighbour,” he said.
Money can also come into play. AltaLink will pay market rate for the land it requires from private property owners, who still retain ownership. An annual per-tower structure payment, or rent, is also paid, which varies depending on the type of tower.
Those payments can provide significant income to some landowners, said Ireland.