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.

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com

Just Posted

Updated: Red Deer welcomes 2019 Canada Winter Games Team Alberta

About 250 Alberta athletes are participating in the Games

Syrian immigrants feel welcomed

Winter Social held at Festival Hall to promote multiculturalism

Small group rallies with pro-immigration message

Group wanted to counter misinformation on United Nations migration agreement

Trump says ‘things are going very well’ with North Korea

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Saturday that “things are going very… Continue reading

NDP won’t stop until Trans Mountain is built, says minister

Deron Bilous speaks at Red Deer chamber luncheon

VIDEO: Students in MAGA hats mock Native American at Indigenous Peoples March

Diocese in Kentucky says it is investigating the matter, caught on video by onlookers

CONSUMER REPORT: What to buy each month in 2019 to save money

Resolve to buy all of the things you want and need, but pay less money for them

Anxiety in Alaska as endless aftershocks rattle residents

Seismologists expect the temblors to continue for months, although the frequency has lessened

Women’s March returns across the U.S. amid shutdown and controversy

The original march in 2017, the day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration, drew hundreds of thousands of people

Kriechmayr edges Swiss favourite Feuz to win WCup downhill

WENGEN, Switzerland — It takes a special run to beat Switzerland’s best… Continue reading

WestJet plane heading to Victoria slides off Edmonton runway, no injuries

EDMONTON — A WestJet plane has slid off an icy taxiway at… Continue reading

Sam Bennett scores twice, Flames beat Red Wings 6-4

Flames 6, Red Wings 4 CALGARY — Sam Bennett scored twice including… Continue reading

Rare ‘super blood wolf moon’ takes to the skies this Sunday

Celestial event happens only three times this century

Most Read