Power line project open house draws five people

Only a handful of area residents showed up on Tuesday to find out more about the public hearing process for a $1-billion power transmission line project for Western Alberta.

Only a handful of area residents showed up on Tuesday to find out more about the public hearing process for a $1-billion power transmission line project for Western Alberta.

Five people attended the Alberta Utilities Commission meeting at the Holiday Inn on 67th Street in Red Deer. A meeting in Ponoka held on Monday drew about a dozen. Another one is being held tonight at 7 p.m. at the Didsbury Memorial Complex.

Commission representatives were on hand to talk about how to participate in this fall’s upcoming meetings. The deadline is Sept. 12 to register submissions and participate in the Western Alberta transmission line public hearing, which will begin Nov. 7 at the Holiday Inn and is expected to take several weeks.

Among those who came out was Ken Brink, whose Spruce View homestead could have the preferred transmission line route run through it.

“We’re interested in what the process is after three or four years ago when (another proposed line) came forward,” Brink said.

Brink said initially he didn’t want this new preferred line going through.

“But when we realized we were the only residents in the way of one of the sections . . . we enjoy the benefits of power just like everyone,” he said.

One man asked questions related to the route itself, but was told by AUC representatives that this was not the forum for it. Calgary-based AltaLink is the one building the line deemed necessary under Bill 50 passed by the Alberta government.

The 500-volt transmission line is proposed to run from the Genesee power plant, 85 km west of Edmonton, to Langdon, 30 km south of Strathmore. The preferred route would run west of Rimbey, Sylvan Lake, Innisfail and Olds. An alternate route would run east of Ponoka, east of Red Deer and just west of Pine Lake.

AUC spokesman Jim Law said these meetings running right now are similar to ones held earlier this year.

“We’re trying to catch anyone who hasn’t been aware of it or are thinking about participating in the hearing — and they’re unclear about the process,” he said.

Although the public hearing is slated for Red Deer, if there’s enough interest, community hearing sessions could run at Rimbey on Nov. 15, Red Deer on Nov. 17, Didsbury on Nov. 21 and Indus on Nov. 24. People interested in those must indicate with the AUC by Sept. 12.

A third option, instead of attending the formal public hearing or community hearing session, is to write a submission by Sept. 12.

The three options are not mutually exclusive, so someone can still make a presentation at a hearing even though they gave their issues in writing.

After the hearing is done sometime in December and final submissions are entered, the AUC will have 90 days in which to approve one of the lines, deny the application or approve with conditions.

ltester@bprda.wpengine.com