Residents along AltaLink’s northern proposed route for their Cooking Lake 138kV Transmission Line are becoming increasingly concerned about the negative effects of the line (Sherwood Park News 1, Sherwood Park News 2). They are concerned that the line will have negative impacts on their health, safety, environment (including birds), property values, tourism, aesthetics (visual), livestock, crops, and aircraft travel near the Cooking Lake Airport, to name but a few. If built along AltaLink’s proposed northern route, the power line would run along Highway 14 from Anthony Henday Drive East to a substation south of Cooking Lake.
The Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO) and AltaLink have suggested that the new 138kV transmission line is needed because “This area has grown significantly in recent years and the demand for electricity has increased.” Unfortunately, there are no statistics or other data to support this contention. In other words, this line is not necessary, but then many other transmission lines built in Alberta during the past few years have also not been necessary (e.g., Heartland Transmission Line, Western Alberta Transmission Line, Eastern Alberta Transmission Line, plus many others).
An overhead high voltage line along AltaLink’s proposed northern route would run right through the Bretona Pond Wetland Complex (a Buck-for-Wildlife Area) and right through the South Cooking Lake Environmentally Significant Area, both well-known for their large concentrations of waterfowl and many other bird species. It has been well-documented that many birds are killed crashing into overhead high voltage power lines. About 174 million birds are killed every year in the U.S., alone, crashing into power line conductors, shield wires and towers.
The northern route would also see the lines built close to the Cooking Lake Airport, active since 1926, which currently has about 10,000 aircraft movements every year. Overhead high voltage lines are a well-known hazard to aircraft.
In addition to the environmental and aircraft issues, all of the statistical data appear to point in favour of the southern proposed route in Leduc County: at least 1.3 kilometres shorter, at least 10 fewer towers required, much cheaper, and about 125 fewer directly and negatively affected homes within 800 metres of the transmission line. However, AltaLink and the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) have never let the facts get in the way of where they end up locating new transmission lines in Alberta. Many of AltaLink’s overhead transmission lines are built too close to homes, schools, businesses, recreation areas and environmentally sensitive areas.
Strathcona County Councillors Linton Delainey (Ward 6) and Bonnie Riddell (Ward 7) have both expressed concerns about the proposed northern route for the Cooking Lake line. Delainey has encouraged Strathcona County residents to let AltaLink, the AUC, Mayor Roxanne Carr, their Councillor and their MLA know about their concerns. Delainey has also encouraged concerned County residents to attend an information meeting about the line:
Monday, May 5, 2014, 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm
South Cooking Lake Seniors Activity Centre
Councillor Delainey has suggested that if Strathcona County residents don’t register their concerns about this proposed line, they will end up with another “Power Line Jungle”, just like the unsightly Heartland line which all County residents must now drive under to get to and from Edmonton.
As is the case with other new transmission lines being built in Alberta, or anywhere in the world for that matter, RETA strongly recommends burying the proposed Cooking Lake 138kV Transmission Line in order to eliminate the many negative impacts of an overhead line. If the line was buried, it wouldn’t be much of a concern to anyone, regardless of which route was selected.