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ATCO a no-go? Council files for intervener status

by Evan Matthews | reporter@fitzhugh.ca

The Municipality of Jasper is moving forward with its application to the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) for intervener status regarding the proposed ATCO transmission line.

The deadline for applications is Friday Oct. 13.

On Oct. 3, council made the decision to move forward with its application, while at the Oct. 10 Committee of the Whole meeting, council fleshed out specific concerns the municipality would submit to the AUC.

In addition to the municipality, the Jasper Environmental Association has been given local intervener status.

Council decided to focus mainly on the area of power reliability, which comes with the assumption other parties — such as the JEA — will focus its efforts on the environmental aspects of the project.

“We shouldn’t take environmental issues out of our application all together… but our focus should be on reliability,” said Councillor Gilbert Wall.

“In talking with other communities, their reliability within (the AIES) is way, way worse than what ours is here, currently,” he said.

Mayor Richard Ireland echoed Coun. Wall, saying he would like to see and learn more about the capacity of the current Palisades Power Plant in relation to the town’s needs.

Councillor Rico Damota urged council to add safety concerns to the list as well.

When it comes to utility related projects, local people, organizations or governments may qualify as a local intervener if the parties may be directly and adversely affected by the Commission’s decision on an electric or gas facility application, according to the Alberta Utilities Commission Act.

ATCO Electric Ltd. is proposing to construct a transmission line that will connect Jasper National Park with the Alberta Interconnected Electric System (AIES).

The project will see construction of a new 45-kilometre transmission line — a 69-kiloVolt single circuit — connecting Jasper to a separate transmission line near the east gate, while also including the construction of a new substation located near the existing Palisades Power Plant, which is roughly eight kilometres north of town.

Should the project go ahead, the Palisades Power Plant, which currently supplies the bulk of Jasper’s electricity, will be decommissioned and torn down.

According to ATCO, the power plant is nearing the end of its operational life span and needs to be replaced.

Though not yet approved by Parks Canada and the Alberta Utilities Commission, if approved, ATCO expects the bulk of the construction to take place between Oct. 1 and March 31, 2018. Though, the JEA says it’s relatively certain the earliest ATCO would be able to start construction is fall 2018.

ATCO expects the transmission line to go into service in May 2018.

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