Responsible Electricity Transmission for Albertans
Customers Willing to Pay to Get Transmission Lines Buried
National Grid in Great Britain commissioned a study that found 80% of the 1,000 people surveyed would be willing to pay extra to bury high voltage transmission lines (Burnham-On-Sea).
Within this context, the electricity transmission company has calculated that the cost of burying the entire proposed 400kV Hinkley C connector line in Somerset County, England would be less than 1 pound per year on the average customer’s power bill. No Moor Pylons campaign spokesperson Paul Hipwell said, “Local people fully understand that burying power cables will cost more but it’s a price they are very willing to pay to protect the beautiful Somerset countryside for future generations to enjoy.”
When National Grid announced its detailed route for the Hinkley Point to Avonmouth transmission line in early November, it included an 8-kilometre underground section to be buried under the Mendip Hills area of outstanding beauty (BBC). The remainder of the 60-kilometre line will be built above ground. Although the short underground section was welcomed by those who opposed the overhead line, they had hoped that more of the line would be buried. Considering the very small addition to the average customer’s annual power bill to bury the entire line, their disappointment certainly is understandable.
Results from the poll commissioned by National Grid and the company’s calculations to determine what the average customer would pay to get high voltage power lines buried are very similar to data collected by RETA. An independent Leger Marketing poll commissioned by RETA in late 2009 found that 68% of the 900 Albertans polled would be willing to pay extra to get high voltage power lines buried whenever they run close to homes or schools. On average, Albertans are willing to pay an additional $3.55 on their monthly power bill to have high voltage power lines buried near homes and schools.
Based on AltaLink’s and EPCOR’s own calculations, it would have cost the average customer less than 50 cents per month more on their power bill to bury about one-third of the double-circuit 500kV Heartland power line currently under construction in Edmonton, Strathcona County and Sturgeon County. Independent experts’ calculations put the average additional monthly cost to partially bury the Heartland line at less than 10 cents per month. In any case, it would have cost the average customer in Alberta anywhere from less than 1 to 4 cups of coffee per year to bury part of the Heartland line.
Instead, the Alberta Government, Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO), Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC), AltaLink and EPCOR all agreed that the Heartland line should be built above ground, against the wishes of numerous municipalities; thousands of residents; and many businesses, schools, and daycare centres that will be directly and adversely impacted.