Sunday, February 7, 2016

LLG: Concern over AltaLink’s proposed Castle Rock Ridge to Chapel Rock transmission line continues

Eastern slopes of the Livingstone Range (Ginny Grinevitch photo)

Livingstone Landowners Guild

The Livingstone Landowners Guild (LLG) is committed to the stewardship and responsible development of southwestern Alberta’s famous ranching landscape. That is why we have committed significant time, money and effort to reviewing AltaLink’s proposed overhead transmission line from Pincher Creek to the flanks of the Livingstone Range since route selection began in October, 2014.

The LLG is comprised of ranchers, acreage-owners, local business operators and others who work hard to retain this landscape’s aesthetic and ecological virtues and the quality of life embraced by those who live here. These same attributes attract thousands of visitors to this region each year.

We support the development of wind and other forms of alternative energy to help reduce Alberta’s reliance on coal-generated electricity. Wind energy is green energy, however, only when it avoids environmentally-sensitive and aesthetically important areas. We believe Albertans — already paying high electrical bills because of high transmission costs — should not have to pay for long connector lines that are neither needed nor in the public interest.

This region of rich landforms and stunning scenery and its sustainable rural economy should not be sacrificed for ill-advised energy infrastructure projects.

AltaLink should serve the public interest, not compromise it.

Our analysis of this project has identified the following serious concerns:
  • The estimated cost of the project has increased from $180 million dollars—when approved eight years ago—to $750 million. Every penny of that will be charged back to electricity consumers through bill increases. 
  • The proposed transmission line is no longer needed—the original needs assessment is invalid as projects previously planned have lapsed or been abandoned. Turbine technology has changed dramatically during recent years. Wind farm development is now possible much closer to areas of electrical demand and existing transmission lines. For wind power to deliver reliability and consistency to the grid, wind farms should be distributed in several regions, not concentrate them in one. 
  • Any of AltaLink’s current route options for this unnecessary line would permanently and negatively degrade Alberta’s tourism values, and devalue ecologically intact and environmentally-sensitive lands along the near-pristine Livingstone Range … and at the gateways to new parklands in the Castle. 
  • AltaLink’s proposed power line routes violate the South Saskatchewan Regional Plan which directs industrial development to use existing disturbed corridors. Instead, the proposed line would fragment and degrade rare native grasslands, environmentally-sensitive areas and the habitat of already-threatened species including the world’s largest known concentration of migrating golden eagles. 
  • AltaLink’s proposed power line routes industrialize the world-renowned Cowboy Trail landscape along Highway 22 and Highway 3. An unneeded power line here, besides being incurring significant new costs to Albertan electricity users, would permanently and degrade a prime Alberta tourism resource and an area featured in many movies. 

Why would Alberta degrade one of its most scenic and ecologically rich landscapes - one that already supports a sustainable economy - for a project that has no apparent need, and would result in increased expense to electricity users at a time when Alberta families are facing economic difficulty?

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