Fort McMurray West 500-kV Transmission Project
On March 28, 2019, the Fort McMurray West 500-kV Transmission Project was energized three months ahead of schedule, on-budget, and with an impeccable safety record. This 508-km transmission line, running from Wabamun, Alta., just west of Edmonton, to Fort McMurray provides essential electricity, greater reliability and enhances the transmission system to meet growing demands in northern Alberta.
AWARD WINNING PROJECT
In 2014 Alberta PowerLine, a partnership between ATCO and Quanta Services Inc., competed against global proponents and was selected by the Alberta Electric Systems Operator through a competitive global process to develop, build, finance, own, operate and maintain the Fort McMurray West 500-kV Transmission Project.
The project was financed in part through the largest public-private-partnership bond in Canadian history and has been recognized for creating a new standard of excellence in public private partnership projects. It’s also the longest 500kV AC transmission line in Canada and was ranked among the top 50 infrastructure projects in Canada for 2019.
PARTNERING FOR SUCCESS
Engaging stakeholders and Indigenous Peoples in genuine, heartfelt dialogue was an important foundation to this project. Throughout the planning phase of the project we held more than 3,000 face-to-face meetings, engaging with citizens in an open, transparent and honest manner and incorporating the feedback into our route and construction plans.
Alberta PowerLine also undertook extensive consultation with more than twenty Indigenous communities and engaged them as active participants in the project through significant contracts totaling $85 million, which will provide an opportunity for jobs, skills training and local economic development. Centuries-old culture, histories and local knowledge helped us in shaping the route and our Caribou Protection Program, which has set a new standard for construction.
Now, we have been meeting with Indigenous communities about an equity ownership model, which will enable Indigenous communities to become direct owners and participants in Alberta’s energy sector.
During construction, our people faced challenges head-on. One such challenge was the prevalence of muskeg on the proposed route, which requires freezing temperatures to allow vehicle access, and required the construction be condensed to two winter seasons. And, thanks to the use of innovative engineering designs, we decreased construction time, reduced material and construction costs, and improved quality management and construction efficiencies.