The proposed rebuild of existing 80L transmission line. The red line signifies AltaLink's preferred route option

Power route raises red flags

AltaLink’s plans to rebuild a major transmission line through Red Deer within the next three years is raising red flags by some residents living near the Waskasoo Park trail system.

AltaLink’s plans to rebuild a major transmission line through Red Deer within the next three years is raising red flags by some residents living near the Waskasoo Park trail system.

A busload of staff from the Calgary based transmission company came to speak with more than 50 Red Deer area residents during Tuesday’s four hour session at Bower-Kin Community Centre. AltaLink proposes to rebuild 29 km of the transmission line running from the southwest corner of Red Deer to south of Joffre.

Several residents from West Park Estates are particularly concerned that one proposed route in their neighbourhood would cut through a swath of mature trees just west of Wiltshire Boulevard.

“You start taking down those trees and it’s a major eyesore,” said Sarah Cormack, before attending Tuesday’s open house. “From a community perspective, it’s part of the beauty of the park system.”

AltaLink reports tree removal is required where Wiltshire Boulevard meets Warwick Drive where lines run directly overhead the trail system on the Red Deer River escarpment.

The existing transmission line runs diagonally from Cronquist Drive to Warwick Drive.

After attending the open house, Cormack remained concerned about the loss of trees within the Waskasoo Park system.

“The impact will be quite severe when you take away those trees,” said Cormack.

Bob and Margaret Stevenson are concerned as well and say it will affect anyone who likes to use the trails in the area.

They would like the “preferred” route, which would entail rebuilding of the existing line, instead of the “alternate” route through the trees.

AltaLink spokeswoman Leanne Niblock said the rebuilding of the existing line, and the proposed route through the trees, are still both considered possibilities since applications haven’t been filed through the Alberta Utilities Commission.

“We don’t plan on filing until next year on the entire Stage 2,” said Niblock, referring to the transmission rebuilding project within Red Deer to south of Joffre.

AltaLink is proposing two different transmission structures in the Red Deer area. Option 1 combines two separate transmission lines onto one double circuit structure for about 6.5 km. It uses H-frame structures for about three kms and is the costlier of the two options.

Option 2 replaces existing structures with new ones and primarily uses H-frame transmission structures.

Jim Saltvold, a resident of Lancaster Green, said he would like to see Option 1 because it would involve only two transmission lines instead of three as proposed under Option 2.

“I thought it would look better in Red Deer,” said Saltvold.

Albert Kondrat said there is a transmission line across his property right now east of Red Deer. He’s glad that he won’t be affected by this latest transmission project.

“They say that nothing is going to change other than upgrading the poles because it’s a feeder line,” said Kondrat.

The work in Red Deer is part of the Red Deer Area Transmission Development project which will reinforce the electric transmission development system between the Wetaskiwin and Didsbury areas.

If all approvals are met, then Stage 2 (the transmission line rebuild in Red Deer and area) could be finished by December 2014, said Niblock.

If all stages are approved, then the entire $350-million project would be done by 2015. Stage 1 involves substation upgrades in the Red Deer area, Stage 3 involves new substations and transmission lines in the Ponoka, Innisfail, Didsbury areas and 15 kms of transmission lines east of Lacombe. Stage 4 involves removing some existing transmission lines from Wetaskiwin to Lacombe, and Red Deer to Innisfail. Stage 1 was approved for go-ahead.

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