Strathcona County will be formally intervening in an upcoming Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) hearing on AltaLink’s proposed Cooking Lake 138 kV Transmission Line (Sherwood Park News). The County opposes AltaLink’s preferred route through Strathcona County because residents located near this route don’t want a new high voltage power line close to their homes, and because the new line would run right through the heart of the Beaver Hills Moraine.
The Beaver Hills Moraine area covers more than 1,500 square kilometres of unique knob-and-kettle glacial moraine, and includes Elk Island National Park, the Cooking Lake-Blackfoot Provincial Recreation Area, Cooking Lake Environmentally Significant Area, Ducks Unlimited McFadden Lake Wetland Conservation Project, Bretona Pond Wetland Complex and numerous additional recognized natural areas. If the new power line is built along AltaLink’s preferred route in Strathcona County, it would run right through the Ducks Unlimited McFadden Lake Wetland Conservation Project, Cooking Lake Environmentally Significant Area and Bretona Pond Wetland Complex.
It is a well-known fact that overhead high voltage transmission lines negatively affect the environment in many ways, including: killing birds that crash into the conductor lines, shield wires and towers; electromagnetic fields and corona effect negatively affecting the health of wildlife; and permanent removal of natural habitat within wide overhead line rights-of-way. For a more complete discussion on the negative environmental effects of overhead high voltage power lines, read the expert environmental impact testimony presented at the Heartland Transmission Line AUC hearing in 2011.
With respect to AltaLink’s preferred route for their proposed new Cooking Lake line, Strathcona County Councillor Vic Bidzinski said, “I looked at all the routes, and I think this is one of the worst routes they could have picked.” RETA could not agree more, because AltaLink’s preferred route is longer, would require many more towers, is more expensive, and would affect about 125 more homes within 800 metres of the line than AltaLink’s alternate route. As well, AltaLink’s preferred route runs right through numerous environmentally sensitive protected areas, runs over the Cooking Lake Cemetery, and runs too close to the Cooking Lake Airport, the hamlet of South Cooking Lake and St. Luke Catholic School.
Unfortunately, AltaLink and the AUC have a long-standing habit of not letting the facts get in the way when it comes to the siting of overhead high voltage transmission lines in Alberta. Many of AltaLink’s transmission lines in our province have been built where they have the most negative environmental, adjacent property value, health, safety and aesthetic impacts.
For more information on AltaLink’s proposed Cooking Lake Transmission Line, see this link.
When it can be clearly proven that specific new high voltage power lines are necessary, RETA continues to advocate for the burying of these lines because all of the negative impacts of overhead lines are eliminated or minimized.