Underground Study Results Made Public

Well, it took some time but the study undertaken by the AESO and the Heartland Project Team to explore the feasibility of undergrounding for the Heartland Project was released today.  No big surprises… yes it is feasible (although some testing of the cables in Alberta weather needs to be undertaken) and, yes, it will cost somewhere between 30 cents and 50 cents a month per household in Alberta.

In general, we feel the study was thorough and balanced.  Still, there are a few areas that concern us.  First of all, the costs seem generally higher than they need to be.  The study uses the average cable cost from 15 quotes by vendors rather than taking the lowest competent bid.  Based on our preliminary evaluation of the report costs are probably 35% to 45% high overall.  We’ll be digging into this more over the next few weeks.

Second of all, we were somewhat concerned to see that the 6,000MW lines will only be energized to around 450MW per circuit (total of 900MW) until 2027.  Even given redundancy and an uncertain future, this seems like excessive capacity.

Lastly, the study takes a pessimistic approach to determining the “in-service dates” (or the time it would take to build the line).  Testing could start right now and probably be complete before the AUC rules on the line, and several experts we’ve spoken with have stated the underground cable could be delivered in much the same timeline as above ground lines.

All in all, though, the study is consistent with what we’ve been saying for some time… underground is viable and affordable.  For more information see the full press release.

~ by RETA on February 24, 2010.

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