Millions of birds are killed hitting high voltage power lines in North America each year – about 175 million each year in the U.S. alone. This type of environmental disaster can be seen at AltaLink’s high voltage line near Big Lake in Lois Hole Centennial Provincial Park. Studies in the Netherlands and U.S. have reported 214 and 124 bird deaths, respectively, per kilometre of overhead power line per year. Based on these and other studies, and the high concentrations of birds along the Heartland route approved by the AUC (Alberta Utilities Commission) November 1, 2011, RETA estimates that over 14,000 birds will be killed annually by the above-ground Heartland line.
As well, overhead high voltage line EMFs significantly increase eggshell thinning and reduce egg size, egg laying and hatching success of birds.
For your reference, RETA has published a number of fact sheets on environmental issues:
- Natural Environment Along So-Called “Preferred” Route
- Natural Environment Along So-Called “Alternate” Route
- High Voltage Power Lines and Birds
- The Environment and High Voltage Power Lines
- Livestock, Pets and High Voltage Power Lines
Our communities, in particular AltaLink’s and EPCOR’s “preferred” route which the AUC approved, contain many water ecosystems. Most are natural, and some have been built by planners and developers for surface drainage; but they are all home to thousands of migratory birds including Canada geese, tundra swans, great blue herons, pelicans, and many more species.
Why would we spend taxpayer money to build and protect these ecosystems for migratory birds only to surround them with high voltage power lines to kill them as they come in to land or take off?
Thirty-four bird species and 2 mammal species that are of provincial and/or federal concern inhabit the Heartland route approved by the AUC.
There are also large populations of mammals that rely on parts of the route approved by the AUC. When the air is ripe with electrostatic and low frequency magnetic fields, and the irritating 24/7/365 buzz and hum, these animals will most probably disappear.
One of the most easily observable environmental impacts of overhead high voltage lines is the significant and permanent loss of wildlife habitat due to the very wide rights-of-way that must be bulldozed and kept clear forever of bush and tree vegetation. On the other hand, buried power lines require very narrow rights-of-way.
Overhead high voltage line EMFs have also been documented to decrease milk yield by 5%, fat corrected milk yield by 13.8%, and milk fat content by 16.4% in dairy cows.
Above ground high voltage power lines are reported to cause breathing problems and weakened immune systems in cows and pigs; abnormally low pig birth rates and high piglet mortality; and undersize heifers.
Dogs and cats exposed to EMFs over a prolonged period have stillborn and deformed puppies and kittens, have abnormal “unbreedable” seasons, and show risks of lymph cancer 6.8 times the expected rate.
Exposure to overhead high voltage power line EMFs decreases plant growth and negatively affects agricultural crop yields and associated economic return.
Burying high voltage power lines eliminates all of the above-mentioned negative impacts.