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County council commits to power line hearings

Sturgeon County committed up to $400,000 to intervene in upcoming hearings on the proposed Heartland Transmission Line.

Sturgeon County committed up to $400,000 to intervene in upcoming hearings on the proposed Heartland Transmission Line.

After a lengthy in camera session, councillors voted unanimously to approve up to $400,000 to put the county at the table during the Alberta Utilities Commission’s (AUC) hearings on the project, which are scheduled for next April.

The county will use the funds to hire consultants and lawyers to represent the county at the hearings, which are set to determine the routing of the proposed line.

Mayor Don Rigney said the issue is clearly important to area residents and it was vital the county be prepared.

“It is a very significant issue to our residents both in terms of those directly affected and those who are distant from the line. It will affect everybody,” he said. “We had to expend these kinds of monies and make this kind of commitment to make sure that our residents were fully represented in this.”

This level of participation will allow the county to submit evidence, request information of the applicants and monitor the proceedings.

The hearings will examine two possible routings for the project, one which will take the power line from coal stations in the Wabamum area south of Edmonton, through the transportation utility corridor on the east side of the city and then north through a portion of Sturgeon County into the Heartland area.

That routing is preferred, but an alternate alignment would run from the power plants north through Sturgeon County near Villeneuve and Rivière Qui Barre before heading west, north of Morinville into the Heartland.

Rigney said the county plans to advocate for the preferred routing because it follows the transportation utility corridor and would have the least impact on county residents.

He said the county will also advocate for those county residents on the preferred route.

“We are always going to try to make sure that anything that impacts our residents is done in the least disagreeable option possible.”

Rigney has publicly questioned the need for the lines at all, both as mayor and as chairman of the Alberta Industrial Heartland Association.

The association has done a study questioning the need for such large lines with few upgraders going ahead, but the AUC won’t be examining that issue.

“The Heartland’s estimate is significantly less than [the Alberta Electric System Operator] needs identification document, but at this point that is not the purpose of these hearings.”

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