Tuesday, 12 September 2017 07:00

Fort Macleod holds meetings over potential sale of the electrical distribution system

Written by  Demi Knight
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Fort Macleod Town council is in the process of holding three public meetings this summer over the months of July, August and September to discuss the potential sale of the town’s electrical distribution system.

The first meeting was held July 27 with the second being held Aug. 30 and the final one being set for Sept. 26.
Justin MacPherson, director of operational services for the Town of Fort Macleod, says the potential sale of the electrical system was brought to the town after an assessment was done by Fortis Alberta.
“The Town approached Fortis Alberta to do an assessment of the electrical distribution system due to reliability issues that plagued the system in 2015 and 2016. The result of the assessment requires the Town to heavily invest in capital infrastructure upgrades thus causing an increase in electrical distribution rates or taxes.”
The necessary upgrades for the electrical system include that of upgrading the current system from a 4.16 kV to a 25 kV system. With most utilities in North America already using 25 kV systems, the town of Fort Macleod currently only has one connection to a system of this power, which in turn creates larger risks of prolonged power outages due to key equipment failure. Moreover, with these upgrades, the town will see long-term benefits such as more power quality, growth and flexibility in improvements, as well as reduced costs in long-term maintenance and repairs.
Due to the cost of the necessary updates, the town council requested Fortis to prepare an offer to purchase the system. After the offer was made it was taken to council July 24.
“After a recommendation from administration, the council decided to add the question, ‘Are you in favour of the Town of Fort Macleod selling the Town’s Electrical Utility system to Fortis Alberta Inc.’ to the ballot of the municipal election being held on the 16th of October 2017,” explains MacPherson.
By asking for the public’s input on the sale, town officials hope to provide residents with the necessary material needed to make an informed decision.
Handouts offered to the community at each meeting providing information on the necessary upgrades of the electrical system, the electric utility assessment conducted by Fortis Alberta, the indicative offer for purchase and financial assessments of the system.
The first meeting that took place in July, saw a turnout of around 30 residents who were interested in learning more about the development and potential sale of the electrical distribution system, however, MacPherson says the town is hoping for more community input and presence during the meeting still to come in September.
“We are hoping for more attendance at the next meeting and we encourage all residents to come to the meetings and ask any questions that they may have.”
He adds these meetings aren’t the only way the town is trying to get the residents involved with this potential sale process.
“As for public input, we performed a telephone survey and a mail out survey that we are finalizing the results of on the week of August 30.”
The last of the three meetings will be held Tuesday, Sept. 26 from 7-9 p.m. at the Fort Macleod and District Community Hall.

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