Power line project approved

By Bryan Passifiume, QMI Agency

Monday, May 20, 2013 7:43:29 MDT PM

The Fidler power line project will allow for greater wind generation capacity in Pincher Creek.

A project aimed at reenforcing power transmission systems north of Pincher Creek has finally received regulatory approval.

The Alberta Utilities Commission has given AltaLink the green light to start construction on its $79 million dollar transmission line project on its preferred route north of Highway 3 between Pincher Creek and Brocket.

According to Altalink’s Peter Brodsky, the project will involve building a new substation just north of the Oldman River, nine kilometres of 240 kilovolt power line, two kilometres of 138 kilovolt line and refurbishing five kilometres of existing power line.

“It’s an opportunity to bring some of the wind generated energy in the Pincher Creek area onto the grid,” he said. “We have about 2700 megawatts of wind power potential here.”

This 2700 megawatts of potential wind power is the cumulative amount of power across the whole of Southern Alberta.

Brodsky said that the projects around Pincher Creek currently produce about 1000 megawatts of electricity.

The project, when complete, will quadruple the wind energy potential in the area — not only accommodating projects already under construction, but those that are still on the drawing board.

“There’s a lot of potential wind projects coming up for the Pincher Creek area,” he said. “Right now, we just don’t have the capacity to bring that on to the network.”

The project was initiated in 2009, with public consultations taking place shortly thereafter. Work on the project was suspended in late 2011 as AltaLink waited for further direction from the Alberta Electric System Operators, which gave their approval last year.

With the AUC approval in hand, AltaLink can now move forward with construction.

Construction will begin on the project this summer, with an anticipated completion date of April of 2014.

As with any powerline project, approval from regulators is always the biggest step. Brodsky is confident that the project will move forward smoothly now that the necessary steps have been taken.

“The process for these major transmission projects is the up front time, in terms of getting the facility applications prepared and approved,” he said. “Until you get the sign-off from the AUC, you don’t begin construction.”