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West Edmonton residents fired up over proposed EPCOR transmission line

Proposed transmission line raises concerns from some west Edmontonians
WATCH ABOVE: A group of vocal residents is fighting back against a transmission-line project in west Edmonton. Julia Wong reports.

Some west Edmonton residents are banding together against a proposal by EPCOR to install a new 72,000-volt overhead transmission line.

Residents are raising concerns over noise, potential health and safety risks as well as what they fear will be an eyesore. Lawyers representing residents in affected neighbourhoods conveyed their concerns Friday at a hearing of the Alberta Utilities Commission.

READ MORE: Edmonton business owners charged up, frustrated over new transmission lines

“Number one, it’s dangerous,” said Gayle Spencer, who has lived in the Elmwood neighbourhood for more than 50 years.

“Number two, our property values will plummet. Number three, it’s going to be noisy and unsightly.”

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The venture, which is called the West Transmission Upgrade Project, would run roughly 10 kilometres from the Poundmaker station to the Meadowlark substation down 156 Street, along the Whitemud and north on 190 Street. EPCOR said the new transmission line is needed to meet electricity demand in the western part of the city.

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The structures would be either wood or composite poles between 18 and 26 metres tall and up to one metre wide. In some areas, they would come within a few metres of homes.

Spencer is concerned about how the transmission line will affect her quality of life.

“We will never be able to escape those poles. We will hear them day in, day out for the rest of our lives,” she said.

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“Life as we know it is going to end. We will never feel safe in our homes or our yards ever again.”

Richard Secord, a lawyer representing the Lynnwood Community League, said there are no aerial transmission lines in the area.

“Generally, transmission lines are not something that you see in residential areas. In this case, they’re putting them down 156 Street between the sidewalk and the front of the house,” he said.

Worries that children would climb up or receive possible electric shocks from the structure were also raised by lawyers during Friday’s meeting.

Residents such as Santwana Carstensen-Sinha, who lives in the Lynwood neighbourhood, are calling for the transmission line to be buried.

“We have children and there are children who play in these fields. We’re concerned about the safety of a high-voltage line next to where they play,” Carstensen-Sinha said.

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EPCOR spokesperson Kelly Struski said the utility worked to address feedback from residents and to incorporate that into the project design. Information on the utility’s website further addresses concerns over transmission line aesthetics and health and safety.

Struski said it would cost approximately $50 million to completely bury the line; she said the utility is in favour of the overhead option.

“We took all of those factors into account and determined these routes and being overhead would be the lowest impact overall to customers,” she said.

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EPCOR said it discussed the proposal with more than 1,100 stakeholders.

The commission can either approve the project, approve it with conditions or deny it. It will release a decision within 90 days.