Edmonton

Hundreds rally to 'bury the line' in Edmonton

Hundreds of residents concerned about a proposed power transmission line between Edmonton and Strathcona County rallied on the steps of the Alberta legislature on Saturday.
A plan shows a 20-km underground line meeting up with 45 km of a 500-kilovolt overhead power line in Sherwood Park, near Edmonton. (Epcor)

Hundreds of residents concerned about a proposed power transmission line between Edmonton and Strathcona County rallied on the steps of the Alberta legislature on Saturday.

The demonstrators are against the current plan for the Heartland Transmission project, which would see a 500-kilovolt transmission line run above ground through Sherwood Park, east of downtown Edmonton.

John Christensen, vice-president of the grassroots group Responsible Electricity Transmission for Albertans (RETA) said there could be health and ecological risks with an above-ground line near homes, schools, daycare centres, hospitals and environmentally sensitive areas.

"By burying these lines you get rid of all of these problems — all of these negatives go away," Christensen said.

"And it's almost the same price to bury as to build above ground."

EPCOR Utilities and AltaLink, the companies behind the Heartland Transmission project, have said it would cost four to 20 times as much to bury portions of the line.

RETA is also concerned about safety and the effect of tornadoes or ice storms on the lines. The lines would also negatively impact property values, the group believes.

"They're just plain ugly to look at," Christensen said.

RETA organized the rally to send a message to the Alberta Utilities Commission and Alberta's elected officials, he said.

"The Alberta government has passed so much legislation to streamline the whole process of building power lines to the point where Albertans don't have a say anymore."

The Alberta Utilities Commission is set to review the application for the proposed project on April 11.

More than 4,000 names have been collected on a petition opposing the plan.

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