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This proposed project involves the construction of an above-ground 72-kV transmission line from the Poundmaker substation (18944 105 Avenue) to the Meadowlark substation (15404 84 Avenue).

Project update

Since September 2016, we have discussed the proposed project with over 1,100 stakeholders. We assessed the input we received from occupants, residents, homeowners and businesses through one on one consultations completed in person, at one of our open houses, or over the phone.  As a result of discussions with stakeholders and other new information, we have determined a preferred route for the transmission line that we believe has the lowest overall impact. An alternate route has also been selected for consideration.

We have also submitted a Facility Application with the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) for approval of either the preferred or alternate route. The AUC is an independent quasi-judicial agency responsible for approving power transmission facilities in Alberta. If the West Edmonton Transmission Upgrade Project is approved, the AUC will also decide which route will be approved for construction.

A map showing the preferred and alternate routes, and information about how the feedback we received was used in our decision-making are included in the project update package distributed to residents near the project in December 2018 and are outlined under the project details tab below.

Thank you to everyone who took the time to participate in the consultation process.

Project details

Project background

This proposed project involves upgrading the transmission system in Edmonton.  It will improve the reliability of the transmission system and reduce the risk of customer outages.

The proposed project includes:

  • Constructing approximately 9.5 km of above-ground 72 kilovolt (kV) transmission line from the Poundmaker substation (18944 105 Avenue) to the Meadowlark substation (15404 84 Avenue).
  • Adding two 72 kV circuit breakers and associated switches and equipment to the Meadowlark substation.
  • Adding one 240 kV/72 kV transformer, one 240 kV circuit breaker, one 72 kV circuit breaker and associated switches and equipment to the Poundmaker substation.
  • Expanding the existing fences at both the Poundmaker and Meadowlark substations.

 

 

The preferred and alternate transmission line route options

Determining the route of a new power line is a complex process. We considered a number of important factors when evaluating possible routes, including:

  • Input from local stakeholders
  • Public and employee health and safety
  • The environment
  • Existing infrastructure available to be used or paralleled
  • Proximity to existing Transportation Utility Corridor (TUC)
  • Electrical requirements
  • Cost
  • Visual and social impacts
  • Construction impacts and access to facilities during maintenance
  • Special constraints and considerations

Based on the research we have done and the feedback we received, we have determined a preferred route for the transmission line that we believe has the lowest overall impact. An alternate route has also been selected for consideration.

Our preferred route option sites the transmission line in an area specifically designed for powerline development—a Transportation Utility Corridor (TUC)—and utilizes existing distribution power line alignments, where possible.

The alternate route option sites the transmission line near existing linear developments (roads and alley ways) along 170 Street and utilizes existing transmission structures and rights-of-way along 105 Avenue.

 Only one route will be built. The map shows the preferred and alternate routes under consideration.

Additional routing information

Based on feedback collected at earlier stages of the project, the following images were developed to help stakeholders visualize the project.

What is a transportation/utility corridor (TUC)?

The Government of Alberta established Restricted Development Areas (RDAs) in the mid-1970s, the lands in these areas were designated for TUC uses. As defined by the Government of Alberta the intended primary uses within TUCs are linear transportation and utility facilities, which includes power transmission lines. 

 

Stakeholder influence

How stakeholder feedback influenced the route options

Stakeholder feedback is important to us and influenced the routes we put forward to the AUC for approval.  The following section provides an overview of how the feedback received was used in determining the preferred and alternate route options.

Removal of route options along stony plain road, 175 Street and 99A Avenue

Stony Plain Road is a highly congested road with limited room to build or install new electrical facilities.  Building a new transmission line here would not only impact stakeholders in the area, but also increase traffic congestion during construction and when the transmission line had to be accessed in the future for maintenance or during outages.

When compared to the alternative – installing the transmission line along 105 Avenue where other transmission infrastructure already exists – the Stony Plain Road option was assessed as having a greater impact, and was therefore removed from the routes being considered.

Route alignment along Whitemud Drive, north of the sound wall

When we met with area residents about the proposed route, several people asked us to place the new transmission line on the south side of the sound wall along Whitemud Drive to limit its visual impacts. After exploring this option with the City of Edmonton, the option to move the transmission line south of the sound wall was ruled out because of concerns about the proposed line's impact on:

  • The integrity of the retaining wall along Whitemud Drive;
  • Lane closures and traffic congestion along Whitemud Drive during construction, maintenance and outages; and
  • The City's current and future landscaping and beautification plans in the area.

Should the project be approved, we are proposing that the new transmission line along Whitemud Drive be installed in one of two fashions:

  • Between 156 Street and 170 Street: Utilizing the existing road right-of-way and distribution line. Every second or third existing distribution pole would be replaced with a taller transmission structure to allow the new transmission line to be installed above one of the distribution circuits (see Structure C). The second distribution circuit would be removed and relocated underground. Burying a distribution power line is significantly less expensive than burying a transmission line because less equipment and infrastructure is required, and the cost of materials is cheaper.
  • Between 170 Street and the Anthony Henday: Along new transmission poles installed in the road right-of-way (Structures A and B)

Route alignment in the transportation utility corridor (TUC) along the Anthony Henday

The preferred route option maximizes our ability to build the new transmission line in a TUC, an area specifically designed for linear transportation and utility development, including power lines.  When we spoke with residents in the area about the project, many asked if the proposed location of the transmission line could be moved further west to limit its visual impact.

Alberta Infrastructure has confirmed that the currently proposed location of the line in the TUC is the optimal design solution based on existing and planned utility and road infrastructure within the TUC.  The pre-planned locations of the utility and road infrastructure inhibit the opportunity to modify or relocate the route further west within the TUC. 

Environment

Stakeholders told us it is important to minimize potential impacts to the environment. We have modified routing to reduce the amount of vegetation removal required within the TUC, and focused on placing other routes near existing development. Any vegetation removed during the construction process will be done outside of bird migration and nesting periods. Environmental impacts will be assessed as part of our Facility Application to the AUC.

Underground cost estimates

We heard from a number of stakeholders that they would prefer the new transmission line be built underground. Based on that feedback, we have completed preliminary cost estimates for burying the preferred and alternative routes. See the table below.

Cost estimates for proposed 72 kV transmission line only

Constructed overhead* (million) ​Buried underground** (million)
Preferred route $14.09 $65.78
​Alternate route ​$13.95

​$63.92

*Cost estimates are + 20% / - 10% and have been rounded to two decimal places.  Estimates include cost of burying one distribution line in proposed overbuild areas.
** Preliminary cost estimates are + / -30% and have been rounded to two decimal places.

Burying a power line is more expensive to build and maintain compared to an above ground power line. Because we are obligated to propose a route with the lowest overall impact to customers - including cost - we are proposing an overhead power line.

Cost estimate—total project

Total project costs include construction of an overhead 72 kV transmission line, upgrades to the Poundmaker and Meadowlark substations, project management, land management and contingency.

Preferred route (million) Alternate route (million)​
​Total ​$34.24 $33.98​  
Cost estimates are + 20% / - 10% and have been rounded to two decimal places.
Timeline

Timeline

 

Proposed structure

Proposed structure type

The typical structures we plan to use will either be wood or composite poles, ranging in height from approximately 18 to 26 metres. The diameter of the typical structures at the ground surface will range between approximately 0.65 to 1.0 metres.

Where possible, we propose to install the new 72 kV transmission line using existing utility rights-of-way and follow the alignment of an existing double-circuit distribution line (see Structure C).

In areas where no distribution or transmission facilities exist and new transmission structures need to be installed, new single circuit transmission poles will be installed (see Structures A and B).

A section of the alternate route, from the Poundmaker Substation to approximately 172 Street, follows an existing 240 kV transmission line that is only strung on one side of the structure. For this section, we propose to string new wires on the unstrung side of the existing transmission structure (see Structure D). New dead end structures will also be required in this section.

Non-Typical Structures

Structures E, F and G represent examples of the non-typical structures that we may need to use at certain locations along the transmission line, including where the line turns corners, has to span larger distances, or crosses existing transmission lines. Non-typical structures may be wood, composite or steel, ranging in height from approximately 18 to 34 metres.

The diameter of the non-typical structures at the ground surface will range between approximately 1.0 to 1.5 metres.

 

Structure A Transmission Only
Portions of the route will be primarily single-circuit, meaning they will have three wires strung across them and one overhead shield wire, which includes fibre optic cables inside, on top. This is the most common pole type.

 

Structure B Transmission Only

Where aerial clearance is limited, a structure that has three wires strung to one side may be used.

 

Structure C Transmission and Distribution

Portions of the routes under consideration follow existing distribution lines. For these sections, we propose to remove some of the current poles (approximately 14 metres tall) and install new poles (ranging from 18 to 26 metres in height) that will have the new transmission line on top and the existing distribution line(s) underneath.  One of the existing distribution circuits will be removed and relocated below ground.

 

Structure D Existing Structure Single Side Strung

New wires will be installed on the side of the existing 240 kV pole line that is unstrung.

 

Structure E Single Pole Vertical Dead End

This pole may be used where the proposed transmission line turns corners.

 

Structure F Two Pole Double Dead End

This structure may be used to allow the new 72 kV line to cross underneath existing 240 kV lines without burying it.

 

Structure G Substation Gantry Structure

Proposed at the Meadowlark Substation. A similar structure is also proposed at the Poundmaker Substation.

Consultation update

Consultation update

Throughout our discussions with stakeholders, various concerns and questions were brought forward. The feedback gathered during personal consultations was documented and included in the Facility Application filed with the AUC.  This section outlines the feedback received from stakeholders – broken into key themes – and our responses.

Visual Impacts

We understand the new transmission line will have some impact on residents in the area.  In order to reduce the potential visual impacts associated with the project, where possible, existing linear disturbances (roads, and existing transmission and distribution lines) were followed or overbuilt.  When determining the routing options, we also strived to minimize impacts to residences, while still accommodating existing and planned underground utilities, road and infrastructure development.

Health and Safety

Electric and Magnetic Fields (EMF)

We recognize that people have concerns about EMF as it exists everywhere there is electricity.  We treat these concerns very seriously and are guided by EMF research that is compiled and reviewed by national and international health agencies. After more than 40 years of research that includes thousands of studies and numerous reviews by health agencies, Health Canada and the World Health Organization have not concluded that typical exposures to EMF from overhead power lines have any known health consequences. If you would like more information about EMF, please contact us or see the links below.

Stray voltage

Although unlikely, transmission lines have the potential to cause induction in metal objects that can result in shocks. These shocks are typically harmless and similar to the shocks you may receive after walking across a carpet. To eliminate these mild shocks, metal objects and fences can be grounded. As a part of this project, we have contracted an independent company to complete an induction study prior to construction. The purpose of the study is to identify potential areas where induction may occur. During construction we will assist landowners with investigating the need to ground metallic objects under or near the line. 

Contact with an overhead or downed power line

We are committed to the safety of our customers and employees. We ensure that our existing and proposed electrical facilities adhere to all applicable electrical and safety legislation, guidelines, standards, codes and regulations.

Underground Route Options

Burying a power line is more expensive to build and maintain than an above-ground power line.  Because we are obligated to propose a route with the lowest overall impact to customers – including cost – we are proposing an overhead power line.

Based on the feedback we received from several residents who specifically asked for the transmission line to be buried, we have included preliminary cost estimates for burying various segments of the proposed routes underground in our Facility Application.

Construction Impacts

If the project is approved, construction is planned to begin in Summer 2019 and finish in Summer 2020. We anticipate work will generally happen Monday to Friday between 7:30 a.m. and 5 p.m.; however occasional evening and weekend work may also be required. We will provide customers affected by construction with more detailed information regarding potential impacts, including possible power outages, prior to any work starting.

All proposed work spaces for the project will be safe and secure, and construction activities will comply with City of Edmonton bylaws, Occupational Health and Safety requirements, and our strict health, safety and environment program.

We understand that construction impacts can be challenging; however, they are generally short in nature. Our construction team will work as quickly and safely as possible to minimize potential impacts.

Property Value

We avoided impacts by proposing to build the new transmission line in areas specifically designed for powerline development like the Transportation Utility Corridor along the Anthony Henday, and utilizing existing rights-of-way, where possible. 

Noise

The addition of a transformer at the Poundmaker substation will increase noise levels at the substation, but will not exceed permissible sound levels (PSL). No increase in noise is expected as a result of the upgrades to the Meadowlark substation. As part of the AUC's requirements, a Noise Impact Assessment (NIA) has been completed for the project and submitted with the Facility Application to ensure that the proposed project will not exceed permissible sound levels (PSL). No noise is anticipated from the operation of the proposed 72 kV transmission line.

Regulatory process

The regulatory process

The AESO is responsible for determining the proposed transmission development, which involves adding the transmission line and the equipment at the Meadowlark and Poundmaker substations. The AESO submitted a Needs Identification Document (NID) with the AUC in October, 2018 in support of this project.

In October, EPCOR's project team also filed a Facility Application with the AUC outlining our proposed upgrades to the Poundmaker and Meadowlark substations, and our preferred and alternate route for the new 72 kV transmission line. 

The AUC must approve the Needs Identification Document and the Facility Application before upgrades to the transmission system can begin. The final decision on routing will be made by the AUC and although two routes were proposed, the AUC will approve one route. No construction can begin until all required approvals are in place.

WETUP_reg_6.jpg

More about the Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO)

The AESO is an independent, not-for-profit organization responsible for the safe, reliable, and economic planning and operation of the provincial transmission grid. For more information about why this project is needed, please refer to the AESO's Updated Need Overview or visit their website. If you have any questions or concerns about the need for this project you may contact the AESO directly or you can make concerns known to an EPCOR representative who will communicate them to the AESO on your behalf. This process may include disclosure of your personal information to the AESO.

More about the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC)

The AUC is an independent, quasi-judicial agency of the province of Alberta. The AUC is responsible to ensure that the delivery of Alberta's utility service takes place in the public interest. The AUC must approve this project before upgrades to the system can begin. For more information about how you can participate in the process, please visit the AUC website.

Electric and magnetic fields

​Sources of electric and magnetic fields (EMF) are found in both the engineered and natural environments.  Examples of engineered sources include most appliances and electronic devices in homes and offices, as well as power lines.  These sources emit fields at 60 cycles-per-second (called Hertz), which are known as "extremely low frequency" electric and magnetic fields.

EPCOR is guided by the EMF research compiled and reviewed by national and international health agencies, including Health Canada and the World Health Organization. After more than 40 years of research that includes thousands of studies and numerous reviews by health agencies, Health Canada and the World Health Organization have not concluded that typical exposures to EMF from overhead power lines have any known health consequences.

Definitions

Electrical definitions

​Transmission line

Transmission lines carry high voltage electricity across long distances to substations, where the power is then stepped down to lower voltages that can be used in homes and businesses. Transmission lines voltages range from 72 kilovolts (72,000 volts) to 500 kilovolts (500,000 volts).

Distribution line

Once voltages are stepped down (e.g. reduced) at a substation, the electricity cruises along distribution wires. These lines are the ones that leave a substation and make their way to a home or business. Distribution voltages are lower, ranging from 120 volts to 25,000 volts.

Substation

Substations are where electricity is stepped down from high voltage electricity to lower voltage that can be used in our homes and businesses. Substations can include equipment such as transformers, circuit breakers, current limiting equipment and communications equipment.

Fibre Optic Cables

Fibre optic cables provide a communications link between neighbouring substations and EPCOR’s control centre. This enables EPCOR to monitor and remotely control its transmission equipment, communicate with other transmission operators, and ensure the safety and reliability of EPCOR’s transmission system.

Volt (V)

A volt is a unit of electric potential that specifies the amount of electric force carried through a power line.

Kilovolt (KV)

A kilovolt is a thousand volts.

Circuit breaker

A circuit breaker is an automatic switch that protects electrical equipment from overloading. A breaker is an electrical switch designed to protect an electrical circuit from damage caused by overload or a short circuit. When a breaker detects a problem, it trips and immediately stops electrical flow.

Utility right-of-way

Utility right-of-ways are designated areas for utilities including power poles, underground powerlines, water, swear, telephone, gas and telecommunication lines. Most utility right-of-ways in Edmonton are located on city property.

Contact us

Contact us

As we move forward, we remain committed to keeping you informed of updates about this project. We will continue to involve you in the process, address your concerns, and respond to your questions.

If you have any questions or concerns about the project, please contact us:

(780) 412-4040

consultation@epcor.com
www.epcor.com/consultation

For more information about the need for this project please contact:

Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO)

(888) 866-2959
Stakeholder.relations@aeso.ca
poweringalberta.com

For more information about the regulatory process please contact:

Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC)
(780) 427-4903 (for toll-free access, dial 310-0000 before the 10 digit number)

auc.ab.ca