AUC Heartland Hearing – Day 20

During the proceedings on May 10, several residents and business owners along the Applicants’ alternate route passionately expressed their concerns about an overhead Heartland line. They spoke about property devaluation and how this would negatively affect their retirement plans. They discussed the stress of the flawed public consultation process and how this had already taken its toll on people’s health. Residents spoke about their concerns regarding the environmental impacts, noise from the overhead power line, the spreading of weeds during construction of the line, aesthetic impacts, and very serious impacts on their farm and tourism-related business opportunities.

They reiterated what many other landowners have raised previously at the hearing, namely AltaLink’s and EPCOR’s poor public consultation process. The Applicants have used a “divide and conquer” approach, pitting neighbour against neighbour. Residents have not been listened to and some residents’ positions have been misrepresented to their neighbours by AltaLink staff. Some residents had been notified but not consulted.

One resident read out the dictionary definition of “consultation” and then pointed out how this is not what the Applicants had been doing. Heartland staff who interviewed landowners were carefully scripted and did not “consult”. One resident expressed her frustration with the incessant AltaLink radio ads that suggest how much AltaLink cares about what landowners think, when in fact they don’t.

The Sturgeon Landowners Group (SLG) presented stray voltage and environmental experts. The environmental expert discussed the environmentally sensitive areas along the Applicants’ alternate route, including the Atim Creek area, Lois Hole Centennial Provincial Park and Wagner Natural Area, and how an overhead Heartland line would negatively affect these. He discussed the importance of maintaining biological diversity, and how these particular areas contributed in this regard. Under cross examination, he indicated that burying the line through horizontal drilling under these areas would mitigate the environmental concerns.

The negative impacts of stray voltage on residents and farming were discussed. The stray voltage expert described the challenges of properly grounding and maintaining this grounding. Livestock are particularly sensitive to even low stray voltages around fences and drinking tanks.

Mr. Berrien was hired by the SLG to make alternate routing suggestions for both the alternate and preferred routes. He didn’t think it was fair that AltaLink had conducted much more in-depth discussions/negotiations with landowners along the preferred route than along the alternate route. However, AltaLink has made it clear on many occasions that they feel confident their preferred route will be selected by the AUC. Berrien also thought that certain landowners who might not necessarily fit within the Applicants’ “buyout” criteria should be bought out.

Cross examiners of Mr. Berrien pointed out that no one (neither landowners nor the Applicants) appeared to support his routing suggestions. Under cross examination, it was also pointed out that Mr. Berrien had provided advice on a whole array of subject matters for which he was not qualified. The AUC Chair asked whether Mr. Berrien could provide any criteria that would be helpful to the AUC for determining which landowners should or could be bought out vs. having the power line jog around them.

~ by RETA on May 11, 2011.

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