Southern Alberta Landowners Fight AltaLink Power Lines
Global Lethbridge (Global 1 and Global 2) and Country 95 News report that the Chinook Area Land Users Association (CALUA) is opposing AltaLink’s proposed Goose Lake to Etzikom Coulee Transmission Project, part of AltaLink’s Southern Alberta Transmission Reinforcement project. The 240kV overhead power line will run 170-220km from AltaLink’s Goose Lake Substation to their proposed Journault Substation.
The CALUA formed in 2006 when concerned landowners in the Twin Butte area recognized the need to inform themselves about industrial developments on their landscape. Association members indicate the power line isn’t necessary. They say there is no overall plan for energy use in Alberta, including electricity transmission. Gary Bikman, Wildrose MLA for Cardston-Taber-Warner says there is no defensible case for the line because there has been no needs assessment. The entire process has not been transparent.
CALUA members also point out that the overhead power line will hurt the area’s scenic beauty and totally deplete the aesthetic view. They are concerned about the impact of the line on birds. (Overhead high voltage lines are known to kill millions of birds every year in North America alone.) Landowners talk about the power line creating a brand new form of land fragmentation. Their cultivating activities will be disrupted by the transmission towers. They are also worried about the many health risks that are reported for overhead high voltage lines.
Concerned landowners will be attending AltaLink open houses in Glenwood on July 17 and in Twin Butte on July 18.
Meanwhile, open houses were held by AltaLink in January of this year for their Picture Butte to Etzikom Coulee Transmission Project which would see about 90km of 240kV line run from AltaLink’s Picture Butte Substation to their proposed Journault Substation. Landowners along this proposed overhead line say AltaLink’s preferred route runs right through some of Alberta’s highest-priced farmland (Action Surface Rights). The Potato Growers of Alberta have said 20% of their potato acres would be negatively affected. They and M.D. of Taber Reeve Brian Brewin have indicated the overhead lines and towers will limit potato farmers’ ability to aerial spray their crops for fungicide. This will in turn decrease the value of their farmland. (Overhead high voltage power lines are known to significantly decrease nearby property values.) Landowners are also worried about documented increased health risks to people and livestock living next to overhead high voltage lines.
As is the case with every one of their applications to the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC), AltaLink says they will listen to landowners concerns about these two southern Alberta power lines. The fact is, history has shown that AltaLink may listen to the many concerns about the negative impacts of their overhead transmission lines on health, safety, property values, the environment, agriculture, tourism and aesthetics, but they almost always ignore these concerns unless they support their preferred route. Reeve Brewin was quoted as saying, “To be honest with you, I was a little disappointed, I think AltaLink came with their mind already made up that this was the (preferred) route they were going to take which they relayed back”. AltaLink has a habit of conducting open houses and landowner interviews just so they can say they have fulfilled the AUC’s required public consultation; however, as one resident who will be directly and negatively impacted by the Heartland line in Sherwood Park put it, AltaLink is not “consulting”, they are “insulting”.