In this decision, the AUC approved facility applications from AltaLink Management Ltd. (“AML”) for the proposed Provost to Edgerton Transmission Development (the “Project”).
The needs identification application (“NID”) for the Development, filed by the Alberta Electric System Operator (“AESO”), had been approved by the AUC in Approval 23429-D02-2019. In this second phase, a facility application was filed by a transmission facility owner and proposed the equipment that will meet the identified need and a location for the facility based on routing, siting, consultation and detailed design.
AML Facility Applications
AML’s proposed Project includes the construction and operation of a 240-kilovolt (“kV”) transmission line, designated as Transmission Line 459L, in two stages. AML provided two routes for consideration, the preferred route, and the alternate route, with potential route variants proposed for specific site-specific issues on the preferred route. To facilitate the construction of the transmission line, modifications at the Hansman Lake 650S Substation, at the south end of the preferred route, during the first stage and the Edgerton 899S Substation, at the north end of the preferred route, during the second stage will be required.
Stage 2 of the Project is based on construction milestones outlined in Appendix A of Needs Identification Document Approval 23429-D02-2019. AltaLink stated that once certain levels of load or generation are met, the AESO will provide formal notice that the construction milestone has been met and that AltaLink may commence construction of Stage 2 of the project. The AESO anticipates that Stage 2 will commence by September 2023.
Stakeholders, in their SIPs, raised various concerns with both the preferred and the alternate route in both stages of the Development. No option was generally preferred by the stakeholders.
AML submitted that its preferred route had lower overall impacts as it was shorter, had lower estimated costs, was located within more road allowances, and intersected with fewer sensitive environmental areas. AML acknowledged that there were fewer residences within 150 meters on the alternate route. However, five residences within 150 meters on the preferred route were already within 150 meters of an existing transmission line.
Stakeholders took issue with AML’s statement that the impacts to residences would not be new, only incremental. They argued the proposed transmission line towers would be double the height of the existing transmission line structures, creating an impact of such significance that it should be considered a new impact.
The AUC determined that the preferred route was better suited from an environmental perspective, as it used more developed road allowances, would parallel an existing disturbance, and have fewer impacts on native vegetation and wetlands. The focus of the remainder of the decision was on the consideration of a south variant on the preferred route, which the AUC approved in order to minimize the impacts that the preferred route on that particular section of the route would have on stakeholders.
In making the decision to approve the south variant, the AUC considered that construction of the preferred route would require the removal of mature trees and the shelterbelt, exposing their home quarter to traffic, noise, dust, wind, and would reduce privacy. Many of these impacts and concerns would be eliminated or minimized by the south variant route. To mitigate impacts, the stakeholders also requested that AML use the shortest structures possible. The AUC considered the request for the shortest structures reasonable. Accordingly, the AUC approved standard horizontal structures originally proposed by AML.
The same stakeholders also raised concerns regarding impacts on their farming operations because of the removal of the shelterbelt and the transmission line’s proximity to several agricultural facilities. Expert reports regarding property value filed in this proceeding also persuaded the AUC that the south variant route would result in lower overall impacts on stakeholders.
The AUC was satisfied that impacts associated with the south variant route could be mitigated to a reasonable degree with the implementation of the mitigation measures proposed in the environmental evaluation and environmental protection plan.
The AUC approved the preferred route with the south variant applied for by AML.