The Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO) is conducting another round of open houses throughout southern Alberta as it nears a critical stage in its 10-year planning study to expand wind power in the region.
AESO set up an open house at the Nanton community centre May 14 to gather feedback from local residents, which will be used in determining the direction wind power and transmission line development takes in the future.
In November, AESO held similar open houses to illustrate the need for wind power development.
“There’s no room for additional transmission on the existing system,” said Ata Rehman, manager of south system planning with AESO. “That’s why we need more transition lines.”
Also, with more than 60 applications province-wide requiring an additional 10,000 megawatts of energy – with more than 8,000 megawatts required in southern Alberta alone – AESO is seriously looking at wind power as the answer to its problem.
Since the first round of open houses in November, AESO has taken feedback from those open houses and used it to come up with four possible solutions, which are the focus of the most recent open houses.
With each of the four solutions proposed by AESO, transmission in southern Alberta could increase by as much as 3,400 megawatts in 10 years, according to Rehman.
After gathering feedback from its latest round of open houses, AESO will rank the four solutions and pick one to use in a formal recommendation to the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC), formerly the Alberta Energy and Utilities Board.
“We’ll rate these four solutions based on three factors – social, technological and economic – (and) we’ll pick one,” Rehman said. “That will be in a couple of months.”
Once the recommendation is finalized, it will be published publicly and submitted to the AUC for approval.
If approved, the AUC will turn it over toAltaLink for development.
“The earliest in-service date for any of the options is late 2011, early 2012,” Rehman said.
The first option calls for a loop of 240 kilovolt lines that starts in Crowsnest Pass and continues through Lethbridge, up to Brooks and Calgary and down to Fort Macleod.
This is the most economic option, but it doesn’t provide the most capacity.
The second option is a radial system with a corridor from Calgary straight south and arms going east to Brooks with satellite service areas for Vulcan, Lethbridge and Crowsnest Pass.
However, this option requires more transmission lines, making it more expensive.
Both of the remaining options call for increased capacity, one by use of 500 kilovolt lines and the other through the use of High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) lines.
Each of these options greatly increases the system capacity but is more expensive to build.
All of the options can handle a minimum of 2,700 megawatts, according to Rehman, and the last three can handle up to 3,000 megawatts.
However, AESO’s goal is to add an additional 3,500 megawatts to the system, Rehman said.
Rehman said the next step is to take feedback from the open houses and combine it with data from technological analyses and cost estimates to make its decision.
AESO will make its formal recommendation to the AUC by the end of June, Rehman said.
Most of the feedback at the open houses has been positive.
“People understand that this is needed in the province and in southern Alberta,” Rehman said, though he noted some people were worried about transmission lines
running through their yards. “That’s to be expected.”
Allen Kettles of the Canadian Wind Energy Association was also on hand for the open house to promote wind energy.
“We’re here as cheerleaders to try and get some transmission built in southern Alberta,” Kettles said. “I’m tired of seeing money all spent north of Calgary.”
Most people attending the open house were positive about the proposal, though some were concerned about transmission lines on their property.
“We don’t want power lines running through the middle of (our property),” said Yolande Strick of the Blackie area, adding that she think additional wind power will be good for the area.
For now, people in southern Alberta will have to wait until July to find out more.
21 May 2008
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