Southern Alberta is rich with energy producing natural resource of wind power. Out west towards Pincher Creek the number of wind turbines continues to increase yearly. There is a lot of interest in this power generation and it is a nice alternative to coal fired electricity plants. The problem currently has to do with transporting all of that clean energy into the Albert power grid. There simply is not enough power line capacity between Pincher Creek and any major urban center with an electric substation in place.
There is currently an ongoing debate and discussion regarding how a transmission line will be constructed to transport this power to urban areas, where the line will travel, how large the line will be, and whom will be inconvenienced by its new construction.
I fully understand those who live in the path of the transmission lines route to not want large towers and power lines cutting across their land, however the clean energy is something which benefits everyone. I believe that tolerating and accepting these lines in the vicinity of your property is a necessity and even though it may be a small detrement to you, it is a large benefit to many. Hopefully those who are building the lines will provide adequate compensation to appease frustrated land owner so that this problem can be resolved as quickly as possible. Every day that goes by that the green energy from the wind turbines fails to get into the power grid, is one more day that higher pollution generators need to run to provide the electricy which we all need.
Robert May is the broker and owner of Rainbow Realty of Lethbridge Alberta. He is also a licensed mortgage associate and financing expert with Canada First Mortgage of Calgary Alberta. He has been in the real estate industry since 1993 and offers full MLS real estate services to Lethbridge and surrounding area, as well as mortgage financing, refinancing/renewals, preapprovals, and home equity financing to Lethbridge and Southern Alberta. He can be found online at www.LethbridgeLoans.com
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|Written by Ric Swihart|
|Wednesday, 10 December 2008|
In the final argument phase of the five-day hearing in Lethbridge Centre Mall, the sentiments ranged from denying AltaLink Management Ltd.’s application to build the line to speeding approval for the majority of the 89-kilometre line while AUC fine-tunes its decision for the more contentious six-kilometre stretch from near Coalhurst across the Oldman River valley to the North Lethbridge substation.
The line, demanded to meet rapidly growing wind power generation in southwestern Alberta, was proposed in 2004. After gaining approval from the Alberta Electrical System Operator for the line, which has a transmission capacity of 1,000 megawatts, AltaLink was commissioned to build it.
After a transmission route loggerhead with the Piikani and Blood Nations was settled, the original route work resumed. During that loggerhead, AltaLink had planned a north route around the two reserves that would have added many kilometres and substantial cost. First Nations land accounts for more than half the line’s distance.
The biggest debate stemmed from Heritage Wind Farm Developments Ltd. of Pincher Creek which claimed, through Calgary lawyer Rosa Twyman, that there is about 2,000 megawatts of wind power production waiting for transmission capacity, and at least the AUC should approve larger capacity conductors to boost the transmission capacity of the line.
Twyman said violation of the province’s Transmission Development Policy to build surplus transmission capacity to encourage greater wind power investment in Alberta takes the line out of the purview of public interest.
Several supporters of the proposed line, including TransAlta Utilities lawyer Renee Marx of Calgary, said the transmission need was defined by AESO in 2005 and confirmed again this year sufficient to meet the transmission need.
She said delaying the line further would erode confidence in Alberta that wind power generator companies can secure their transmission needs in a timely fashion.
Twyman countered building a line quickly that would meet generation company needs would avoid electrical supply shortages, increase reliability, increase competition among generator companies, put significant downward pressure on electricity costs and reduce losses and ancillary service costs.
The other option is to build the line at its stated capacity, and as panel chairman Willie Grieve said, face an application for another transmission line in a couple of years or a couple of months.
The three options facing the AUC for the final thrust into Lethbridge remained a major debate, mostly with those who will be directly affected by the location of the final stretch of the line.
The original favoured route by AltaLink called for construction for about three kilometres through the Oldman River valley and then up the coulee through Peenaquim Park to the North Lethbridge substation.
The three options posed different negative impacts. The new preferred AltaLink route would pass through the middle of two irrigated sections of land. Possible mitigation includes purchase of linear-move irrigation sprinklers that would span either side of the transmission line. It was considered the easiest route to mitigate.
Another proposed route was about half a mile north along the edge of the irrigated field. But that would require the line to pass near nine residences.
The other was to pass along Highway 3 and then swing north through the river valley.
Phyllis Smith, a Calgary lawyer with Emery Jamieson who does extensive bylaw work for Lethbridge, said the route through the river valley would negate the city’s long-term valley development plan that calls for open spaces for the public.
One suggestion from Lethbridge lawyer Tom MacLachlan, representing an affected landowner, was for AltaLink to bury the transmission line through his client’s land and across the river valley to the substation.
Danny Ponjavic, representing the Northwest Lethbridge Route Segment 3 Association, described concerns for electric magnetic field influences on human and animal health.
AltaLink lawyer Peter Feldberg of the Calgary firm Fasken Martineau quashed those concerns, pointing to his expert witness Dr. Bailey, and multiple scientific journals, that suggest EMF concerns are overdone.
Robert W May is a Real Estate Broker in Lethbridge Alberta, having now been in the industry for over 23 years. . He was also a licensed Lethbridge mortgage broker and financing expert with Canada First Mortgage of Calgary Alberta for the past 10 years. He is an industry leader always willing to help train and educate others in how to improve their business models for financial and personal benefit.