Residents unconvinced AltaLink route necessary in southern Alberta

Teri Fikowski, Global Lethbridge : Thursday, July 12, 2012 5:04 PM

Southern Alberta residents are demanding answers about a proposed transmission line through the province.

The Goose Lake to Etzikom Coulee transmission project is a potential transmission line to connect sub-stations near Pincher Creek and Stirling.

Representatives from AltaLink and Alberta Electric System Operator took questions from those concerned at a town hall meeting in Twin Butte Wednesday night, but the project doesn’t seem to sit well with area residents.

Landowners from the town, Pincher Creek, and as far away as Lethbridge asked representatives questions about the project and their concerns surrounding it.

Chair of the sub-committee for the Chinook Area Land Users Association, Anne Stevick tells GlobalNews the transmission lines will affect the entire province.

“It will affect all of us, businesses wise, residence wise and our power bills. If we see businesses leaving Alberta because of the increase to their electricity it’s going to hurt all of Alberta,” she adds.

The intention behind the meeting was to establish the need for the approximate 200 kilometer transmission lines.

Jason Doering with AESO says he can’t stress enough the importance of the project for Alberta’s economic development.

“The project was staged in a manner that allows us to develop the pieces as wind interests shows up in Alberta. Based on the continued wind interest that we see the project is still needed,” he says.

Residents at the meeting weren’t convinced and wore red clothing to represent “stop.”

Pia Blum is a Drywood landowner and is worried about how the project will impact the landscape.

“It devalues our land and this is the most beautiful land in all of Alberta. I cannot understand why they put it in this corridor where the prairies meet the mountains and you can’t find that anywhere else,” she says.

Meanwhile, Tim Romanow owns land east of Cardston and is concerned about soaring power bills.

“There’s potential for some extremely high cost overruns that are going to cost everybody in the province. Not just the landowners directly impacted but every Albertan and people need to hear that message and understand the potential impact this project has on our area,” he adds.

Mark Johns with AltaLink asked residents to keep in mind a firm route hasn’t been established.

He says additional options are still being explored and they’re taking all feedback into consideration.

“We try to find the route with the least impact. We look at the various aspects as we do that. We look at impact to residents, visual impacts, agricultural impacts, environmental impacts, costs and technical aspects,” he adds.

AltaLink will hold another open house at Twin Butte’s town hall July 18.

© Global News. A division of Shaw Media Inc., 2012.