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Power line avoids St. Albert

A controversial power line project will meander to the industrial heartland on a path far from St. Albert under a proposed route released this week.

A controversial power line project will meander to the industrial heartland on a path far from St. Albert under a proposed route released this week.

The Heartland Transmission Project released its preferred and alternate routes for a new 500-kilovolt double-circuit line on Wednesday, and neither would come near St. Albert.

The proposed high-voltage power line would run from generating plants near Wabamun to the industrial heartland in northeastern Sturgeon County.

Altalink and EPCOR, the two companies involved in the project, initially announced four potential routes from the station to the heartland, including one that would have run right past St. Albert.

That line, which the companies rejected, would have run from the Wabamun area to the transportation utility corridor south of St. Albert where Anthony Henday Drive also is located. It would then head north, passing St. Albert on the east side through the Sturgeon Valley and near River Lot 56.

The companies’ preferred route would run the line through the transportation utility corridor in east Edmonton, past Sherwood Park and then north into Sturgeon County.

The alternate route would go north, some distance west of St. Albert, before heading east to the heartland north of Morinville.

Guy Bridgeman, senior vice-president of planning and development for EPCOR said they weighed a host of factors when planning the route, including proximity to people, environmental factors and construction costs.

“It is a bit more of an art than say an engineering science where you would weigh all the factors mathematically, so at the end of the day it comes down to judgment.”

Mayor Nolan Crouse said he was pleased the route near St. Albert has fallen out of favour and is glad council got involved when it raised objections.

“I felt we did our job. I am very happy that they made the decision that they did and I am glad we put the time and effort toward the lobbying.”

Crouse said council worked hard to make sure the line wasn’t built nearby and now they will be stepping back.

“We have made a decision that we are not going to spend any more time on it.”

The companies are considering burying parts of the proposed line, a move that many municipalities and resident groups called for.

The companies are awaiting a study by the Alberta Electric System Operator on the technical feasibility of the proposed line. If that study turns out positively the Heartland group is promising to include an underground option in its final application.

John Kristensen, with Responsible Electricity Transmission for Albertans, a large citizen group lobbying for a buried line along the entire route, said they were hoping for a firmer commitment to the underground option.

“It is a good first step and we will continue working with them to make sure that at least that section gets buried and hopefully the entire line, because there are homes and environmentally sensitive areas in the other 45 kilometres as well.”

Kristensen said even though some political leaders are losing interest his group will continue pushing for a buried line wherever it goes.

“We want it buried both in our backyards and in anybody’s backyard.”