Residents learn more about AltaLink rebuilding plans

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  • Aug. 3, 2011 12:00 p.m.
AltaLink has proposed to build a substation similar to this one about three miles east of Ponoka. The construction

AltaLink has proposed to build a substation similar to this one about three miles east of Ponoka. The construction

By Adam Jackson

Residents of the Ponoka district were given an opportunity to learn more about AltaLink’s plans for expansion and rebuilding of transmission lines.

The $22 million plan, which would rebuild powerlines and construct substations around the Red Deer area, is well on its way, but AltaLink was still looking for the public’s opinion.

AltaLink held an open house at the Ponoka branch of the Royal Canadian Legion last week, where roughly 20 people came in to view diagrams and speak to AltaLink personnel.

“The current transmission lines are very old,” said Robin Boschman, a communications advisor with AltaLink.

“This upgrade will ensure that they will last for quite a while.”

For the Ponoka area, the plan is to construct a new substation east of town. AltaLink is in negotiations with two different property owners to find a suitable location for the station.

“We’re currently working on negotiating with them,” said Boschman.

“We always make sure that they are adequately compensated and that the substations would be on the best possible location on their land.”

AltaLink must also have approval in other areas, such as the ministry of environment and the ministry of agriculture in to move forward with the substation.

AltaLink has proposed to build a substation similar to this one about three miles east of Ponoka. The construction, as well as upgrades to the existing structures, is part of a $22 million plan to improve infrastructure in the Red Deer area.

Substations connect high-voltage transmission lines and lower voltage distribution lines together, allowing power to be distributed directly to homes and businesses. After the power goes through the substation, it is at a much lower voltage, which is safer for household or business use.

Along with the new substation, AltaLink plans to rebuild a section of transmission wires that runs east to west from the Battle River approximately three kilometres east.

The current line is a single circuit 138-kilovolt line and AltaLink is looking to rebuild it as a double circuit 138-kilovolt transmission line.

The timeline for the project is still up in the air, but preliminary schedules provided by AltaLink indicate that if there are no major problems with applications, construction would start in spring 2012 at the earliest.

Boschman says that the cost of the project, when it is fully complete, will cost consumers an extra 20 cents on their existing electricity bill.

Another reason for the expansion, beside the age of the old structures, is population growth.

Since the lines were built between 40 and 50 years ago, towns and cities in the Red Deer area have grown by more than 100,000 people. Ponoka specifically has experienced a growth of 2,000 people in the last 50 years.