Hearings into AltaLink plans wrap up

Hearings wrapped up on Tuesday for a $350-million plan to upgrade electricity transmission in the Red Deer region.

Hearings wrapped up on Tuesday for a $350-million plan to upgrade electricity transmission in the Red Deer region.

The six days of Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) hearings at a Gasoline Alley hotel were called to review AltaLink’s application to build substations near Ponoka, Innisfail and Didsbury, as well as about 35 km of lines in those areas.

As well, there’s a 71-km line overhaul proposed from Benalto, to the edge of Red Deer’s West Park neighbourhood, to Nova Chemicals at Joffre.

The company says upgrading transmission capacity is necessary to keep pace with growth in the Central Alberta corridor.

As the hearing began, AltaLink announced a proposal to build 16 km of new power line in the Lacombe area was being dropped for now because of uncertainty over Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd.’s position on running the line parallel to its tracks.

There was also a surprise revelation that AltaLink was close to inking a deal to buy out a homeowner near West Park whose home had been built under the power lines, which meant a jog in the new line was required for safety reasons.

That small detour meant removing many trees and nearby residents on Wiltshire Boulevard were strongly opposed to losing their views and treasured natural areas.

AltaLink plans to demolish the home and garage, allowing the preferred route to run through the empty lot. The jog remains an alternate route.

Residents of the Pines neighbourhood voiced their opposition to the company’s preferred route, which follows the path of an existing power line that has run through the area since the 1950s. Residents want to use the opportunity presented by planned upgrades to the line to move it farther from homes below the escarpment.

In Red Deer, the city has agreed to spend more than $8 million to have the power line buried in the Riverlands area. However, some property and business owners also want to see the line buried in the nearby Railyards district.

Residents in the Innisfail area and the Town of Innisfail also took issue with AltaLink’s preferred routes and asked for changes.

AltaLink representatives were also grilled by a lawyer for the Utilities Consumer Advocate about the cost of the project that soared from early estimates in the range of $200 million. AltaLink said those were preliminary estimates meant to be used to screen various project alternatives and did not include detailed costing.

Now that the hearing has wrapped up, the 11th-hour preferred route change in West Park must be considered.

That will affect the timing of the three-member AUC panel’s decision, which is typically made within 90 days of all information on an application being received.

Last Friday, the AUC filed an amendment to its application showing the route change and gave an April 7 deadline for filing notices for those who want to make further submissions in writing.

AUC spokesman Geoff Scotton said information on the amendments was delivered by courier to six affected property owners and mailed to all others within 800 metres of the proposed routes.

AltaLink will provide its initial arguments for the route change in writing by April 11 and intervenors have until April 25 to submit their arguments. AltaLink has until May 2 to reply.

Submissions will only be in writing unless the panel sees a need to hold a public hearing.

AltaLink spokesman Peter Brodsky said the West Park situation was unique and no other late amendments are expected.

If approved, construction on the transmission system would begin this summer and be completed in about 14 months.

A decision is expected within 90 days of May 2. The AUC can approve or turn down the application or order changes.


Just Posted

Alberta’s status of women minister joins Twitter debate over women’s marches

EDMONTON — A minister in Alberta’s NDP government has chastised a tweet… Continue reading

Canada faces angry Americans in pivotal sixth round of NAFTA talks

Canada will be hosting an annoyed and angry United States as the… Continue reading

Arts and Craft (Beer) evening set for Feb. 3

Raising money for Red Deer Arts Council

‘Hobbit’ director Peter Jackson making WWI documentary

LONDON — “The Lord of the Rings” director Peter Jackson is transforming… Continue reading

Hot summer ticket: $130K could get you on a dive to the Titanic off Newfoundland

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — Are you a risk-taking adventurer with $130,000 to… Continue reading

WATCH news on the go: Replay Red Deer Jan. 21

Watch news highlights from Red Deer and Central Alberta

Two Canadians, two Americans abducted in Nigeria are freed

Kidnapping for ransom is common in Nigeria, especially on the Kaduna to Abuja highway

WATCH news on the go: Replay Red Deer Jan. 21

Watch news highlights from Red Deer and Central Alberta

Liberals quietly tap experts to write new paternity leave rules

Ideas include creating an entirely new leave benefit similar to one that exists in Quebec

Insurers say Canadian weather getting hotter, wetter and weirder

Average number of days with heavy rain or snow across Canada has been outside norm since spring 2013

Are you ready for some wrestling? WWE’s ‘Raw’ marks 25 years

WWE flagship show is set to mark its 25th anniversary on Monday

VIDEO: Thousands join women’s march events across B.C.

Today marks one year since the first Women’s March on Washington

In photos: Get ready for Western Canadian Championships

Haywood NorAm Western Canadian Championships and Peavey Mart Alberta Cup 5/6 start… Continue reading

WATCH: Red Deer city council debates cost-savings versus quality of life

Majority of councillors decide certain services are worth preserving

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month