Former Los Angeleno wants power lines buried to create safer environment

Gerhard Randel spoke to the Public Utility Board in May 2014 to discuss the need for and alternatives to Manitoba Hydro’s preferred development plan. Randel, a resident of Thompson for nearly two years now, spoke about the possibility of burying Manitoba Hydro power lines instead of building the Keeyask Generating Station. “Manitobans need to know what Manitoba Hydro is doing, especially Northern Manitoba. The dams are being built here in the north, in the north is where we actually generate the power for the rest of the province, and this dam isn’t even for Manitobans, it’s for export so Manitoba Hydro can make money.”

Randel, who is originally from Hamilton Ontario*, says he’s not used to seeing power lines, and thinks they’re an eyesore. He says he’s done a lot of research about the benefits of burying lines. One main benefit is the increased amount of power staying in the lines. “The lines still generate the field, but they go back into the lines because they’re so close. The reason why the overhead lines are so far apart is because of wind. The lines are not insulated, so they have to be far apart because if they touch they short. Being farther apart, the field that gets generated can’t make it back into the cable, and that energy is lost.”

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It’s not just about burying the lines to stop the generating station; it’s about creating a safer environment for humans and animals at the same time. “The trap lines are messed up because of the lines, animals won’t migrate because of their placement, and thousands of birds die a year because of these power lines. Plants die. Workers die, it’s not safe for humans to be so close to the lines, and they can cause cancer. It’s just to death to everything. When you bury them a lot of those factors disappear.”

Randel’s hope is to create a legal case funded by interested people, to bring forward an injunction to stop the building of the Keeyask Generating Station. Instead of using the money for the dam, Randel hopes Manitoba Hydro would use it instead to start burying lines. “I’m ready to do it. It’s going to take a team of lawyers, but you need to crowd fund something like that. We’re looking at a couple hundred thousand to fight this.”

He says this is for the future of the north, and the next generations being healthy, and creating a safe and healthy province.

However, Jane Kidd-Hantscher of Manitoba Hydro’s public affairs department says the cost associated with burying the overhead lines would be excessive, especially due to permafrost and surface bedrock in the province’s north. “The cost would be in the millions per km for transmission specifically, approximately a factor of 10 times the cost for burying transmission compared with overhead transmission,” said Kidd-Hantscher.

 

*In the original version it stated Randel was originally from Los Angeles. The Thompson Citizen apologizes for this mistake. 

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