Responsible Electricity Transmission for Albertans
Heartland Power Line to Close Colchester School
As RETA has reported earlier, construction of the double-circuit 500 kilovolt Heartland Transmission Project has forced Colchester Elementary School to close. The Sherwood Park News reports that 2012-2013 will be the last school year for the well-known elementary school, and Colchester students will be moved to Fultonvale Elementary-Junior High School for the 2013-2014 school year. Apparently, modular classrooms (pre-fabricated stand-alone temporary relocatable classrooms often used in emergencies) will be on site at Fultonvale by July 1, 2013 and will be ready for Colchester students when September classes start.
This is a sad story that did not need to end this way. The Colchester School Parents’ Association, Colchester School staff, Elk Island Public Schools, Strathcona County Council, RETA and many others have pleaded over the past 4 years to the Alberta P.C. Government, local P.C. MLAs, the Alberta Electricity System Operator (AESO), Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC), AltaLink and EPCOR to either not build the Heartland line because it is not needed, or if it is built to bury it next to the school. Unfortunately, the many representations made in this regard fell on deaf ears, and as a result, close to 200 students will have to be shipped about 11 kilometres away to Fultonvale School.
Because AltaLink and EPCOR indicated the Heartland towers and lines (up to 77 metres or 253 feet tall) had to be built within 140 metres of the school, the Colchester School parents and Elk Island Public Schools decided to move the students out of Colchester School because they did not want to jeopardize the health of the children by having them subjected on a daily basis to EMFs and the corona effect.
Colchester School has a long and rich history, and is considered one of the most respected schools in Strathcona County, based on the commitment of its staff and administration to the high quality education of the thousands of students who have passed through its doors over many decades. The school has been well-maintained and would have provided many more years of service to southwest Strathcona County communities, had it not been for the current construction of an overhead Heartland power line so close to it. Alberta Education’s initial estimate to relocate Colchester students to Fultonvale was a minimum of $20 million. This money could have been used instead to bury the power line by Colchester School.
The decision to build the tallest above-ground high voltage transmission line in Alberta right next to an elementary school, forcing it to close its doors, will be regarded as one of the worst electricity transmission decisions ever made in the history of Alberta. Of all the players involved in this decision, the greatest fault lies with the Alberta P.C. Government, for it is they who legislated the building of this line; it is they who pushed for the line to be built in the Edmonton and Sherwood Park Greenbelts close to 5,200 homes, many businesses, schools, daycare centres and environmentally sensitive areas; and it is they who refused to support burying the line.