edm-power-line-meeting

Hundreds of people packed into a church in west Edmonton for an information session on a proposed transmission line. ((CBC))

Hundreds of people attended an information meeting in Edmonton Monday about a controversial 500-kilovolt above-ground transmission line proposed to run near Edmonton.

The line, which would be built by Epcor and Alta Link, would connect the so-called industrial heartland northeast of the city to existing power facilities near Edmonton along one of four proposed routes, which could run along either the western or eastern borders of the city.

Monday night's meeting was organized by two groups, which each represent residents on either side of Edmonton: Responsible Electricity Transmission for Albertans from the east, and the Coalition of West End Communities for Burying the Line, for residents to the west.

Both groups want Epcor and Alta Link to bury the sections of the line near populated areas because they believe an above-ground line could hurt their health and the values of their homes.

"We don't care if they put it in our backyard. We just want the line buried," said George Yeoman, who speaks for the coalition.

The power companies have said burying the lines could cost anywhere from four to 20 times as much as the above-ground option, and could be impractical. 

But one executive who attended Monday's meeting suggested the companies are looking into the issue.

"Last Friday we brought in some world-renowned experts to bring information to the table about what it would take to put something underground," EPCOR senior vice-president Guy Bridgeman told CBC News. "So we're listening and we're working."

EPCOR and Alta Link plan to narrow down their options to two this fall, selecting a preferred route and an alternative, Bridgeman said. A facility application will be made to the Alberta Utilities Commission in the spring, with hearings likely to take place next year.

Edmonton's Progressive Conservative MLA David Xiao and Raj Sherman also attended the meeting. They promised to share residents' concerns with the rest of the Tory caucus at a meeting Tuesday.