2009 Electric Transmission Systems Study

In 2009, Stantec was commissioned to do a study of  current and future transmission technologies.
The study provides no recommendations.

It includes descriptions and conclusions on the following technologies:

  • Conventional overhead high-voltage alternating current transmission;
  • Underground high-voltage alternating current transmission;
  • Combinations of overhead and underground high-voltage alternating current transmission;
  • High-voltage direct current transmission (overhead and underground); and
  • New and developing technologies.

They also reviewed;

  • Power transmission capabilities and voltage levels;
  • Length of transmission line or cable;
  • Technology;
  • Environmental concerns;
  • Cost; and Reliability, efficiency, performance and operational features.

Summary of Electric Transmission Assessment Reportexternal link icon(Summary)

Assessment and Analysis of the State-Of-The Art Electric Transmission Systems with Specific Focus on Hig Voltage Direct Current (HVDC), Underground or other new or Developing Technologiesexternal link iconStantecexternal link iconconducted the study with support from AREVA and Power Delivery Consultantsexternal link icon(PDC), and input from ABBexternal link iconand Siemensexternal link icon.

* This full report link has the following attached;

  • Appendix A: Stantec Consulting Request for HVDC Information on behalf of Alberta Energy, ABB Response
  • Appendix B: High Voltage Direct Current Transmission - Proven Technology for Power Exchange, Answers for Energy, Siemens

Transmission type conclusions from the study;
  • Underground high-voltage transmission (alternating or direct current) has potential application in Alberta over short (less than 50 kilometres) distances. The study also specifies that this is only in areas where overhead transmission cannot be accommodated, such as in densely populated urban and commercial areas with limited right-of-way.

  • High-voltage direct current (overhead HVDC) has a lower cost than comparable high-voltage alternating current for moving bulk power over longer distances. The study also indicates that HVDC might be the preferred option in cases where environmental concerns weigh heavily because of its reduced requirement for right-of-way.

Transmission in Alberta 
This study was commissioned in 2009 when Cabinet had the power to designate future transmission facilities as critical transmission infrastructure or approve the need for critical transmission infrastructure under the Electric Statutes Amendment Act, 2009 (also known as Bill 50). , the government had this power. The Electric Utilities Amendment Act, 2012 (formerly known as Bill 8) was passed by the Alberta Legislature to ensure that the need for all future transmission lines be assessed by the Alberta Utilities Commissionexternal link icon(AUC) with a full needs assessment process, not the provincial cabinet.

In Alberta, transmission systems are owned and operated by shareholder or municipally owned companies such as: AltaLink, ATCO Electric Transmission, EPCOR Distribution and Transmission Inc. and ENMAX Power Corporation. The AUC regulates these companies' transmission costs and requires transmission facility owners, the companies that build, own and operate transmission infrastructure to carry out consultations before submitting an application for a transmission project. The AUC also has a mandate to ensure every directly and adversely affected Albertan is informed of a transmission line or substation application, and has the opportunity to have their concerns heard.

Once generated, electricity travels across Alberta over high-voltage transmission lines to local substations. High voltage transmission lines generally have large steel frame towers and transmit energy at 138,000 to 500,000 volts. The voltage is reduced at the local substations to levels that make it suitable for distribution to commercial and residential areas. The Alberta Electric System Operatorexternal link icon (AESO) works with the province's transmission facility owners (TFOs) to monitor the system and ensure it is stable and reliable.

  • Plans upgrades and enhancements to the province's transmission system
  • Provides access to Alberta’s power grid to power generators and distribution companies, as well as for large industrial consumers of electricity.
  • Works with transmission infrastructure owners to ensure fair and timely access to the system.
  • Sets and administers transmission tariffs and applies to the AUC for approval.
  • Works to ensure system reliability and manage settlement of the hourly wholesale market and transmission system services.
  • Looks at the long-term growth of Alberta’s electricity system.
  • Builds effective relationships with neighbouring electrical jurisdictions.

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