The 500 kilovolt direct current (DC) Eastern Alberta Transmission Line (EATL), running from the Brooks area north to the Gibbons-Redwater area, is under construction. Approved by the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) in November 2012 (Decision No. 2012-303), construction on the $1.8 billion project, comprising 485 kilometres of 500 kV DC line and two converter stations, began in December 2012 and will continue to the project’s anticipated in-service date of late 2014.
EATL construction activities include right-of-way clearing, geotechnical work, installation of tower foundations, tower assembly and tower erection as well as construction of the Heathfield and Newell Converter Stations. The project’s three laydown yards – Duchess, Ryley and Forestburg – are all operational. Stringing of the line is scheduled to begin in late November 2013 and it’s estimated that all 1,388 towers will be erected by the end of March 2014.
EATL: Extended Hours of Construction
The Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) has authorized, if required, the implementation of extended construction hours (up to 24 hours a day) for EATL. Extended construction hours could be initiated in order to maximize the construction that can be done during the drier conditions of summer and the frozen ground conditions of winter.
The hours in which more disruptive construction activities (e.g. pile-driving) occur are limited and ATCO Electric’s Landowner Construction Liaisons (LCLs) notify landowners affected by line and converter station construction of activities underway in their area(s).
See the August 2013 Project Update for more information on construction activities.
Public Consultation and Information Sessions
ATCO Electric's public consultation on the EATL began in the spring of 2010. In June 2010, project information packages were mailed to landowners and interested parties and 14 open houses were hosted that summer to provide more information on the project. Approximately 7,000 one-on-one consultations were conducted on the preliminary route options from June to December 2010.
In January 2011, a preferred route, alternative route and converter station sites were announced and consultation began again with over 2,400 landowners, occupants and interested parties. On March 25, 2011, following a review of the feedback received, ATCO Electric filed a facility application with the AUC.
In June 2011, ATCO Electric hosted Information Sessions on the EATL, informing participants about construction practices as well as agricultural and environmental considerations for landowners and occupants on the preferred and alternative routes. 168 people attended the sessions held in Bruderheim, Mundare, Forestburg, Brooks, Hanna and Holden.
In June, 2009, as part of an update to its existing Long-term Transmission System Plan, the Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO) identified the need to “reinforce the transmission backbone that runs through the province and links vital parts of the system.” Acknowledging the inefficiencies – $220 million worth of electricity was lost in the form of heat from transmission lines in 2008, alone – in the province’s transmission system as a result of no major transmission projects having been built for more than 20 years, the AESO’s Plan identified $14.5 billion worth of projects, including the construction of a 500 kV HVDC transmission line along a corridor between the Edmonton and Calgary areas on the eastern side of the province.
Direction to submit Facility Application
At the same time that the AESO directed ATCO Electric to prepare and submit a Facility Application to the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) for this project, they directed another transmission facility owner to plan a similar line on the western side of the province. These two north-south HVDC lines are part of what the AESO identified as “critical transmission infrastructure,” necessary to form a solid foundation for business investment decisions that rely upon electricity.
In response to the AESO’s direction, ATCO Electric began public consultation on the EATL in spring, 2010. In June, project information packages were mailed to landowners and interested parties and 14 open houses were hosted that summer. Approximately 7,000 one-on-one consultations were conducted on the preliminary route options from June to December.
In January 2011, a preferred route, alternative route and converter station sites were announced and consultation began with over 2,400 landowners, occupants and interested parties. On March 25, 2011, following a review of the feedback received, ATCO Electric filed its Facility Application for the EATL with the AUC.
AUC suspends, reinstates regulatory process
Nine months later, on October 21, 2011, in response to a request from the Alberta government, the AUC announced it had suspended both its regulatory process for reviewing transmission facility applications and the scheduled hearings for the two proposed north-south critical transmission lines, including ATCO Electric’s EATL, to conduct a review.
In December, the Government of Alberta appointed a panel of experts – the Critical Transmission Review Committee (CTRC) – to review the two north-south lines. The CTRC report was submitted to the Minister of Energy on February 10, 2012. Later that month the Government announced that it had accepted all of the CRTC’s recommendations and requested that the AUC resume its regulatory process.
Facility Application is approved
Based on its revised schedule, the AUC held public hearings for the EATL in communities throughout southeastern Alberta from July 23 to 30, 2012, delivering its decision (No. 2012-303
) approving the transmission infrastructure project on November 15, 2012.