LANGDON – So many things in life are taken for granted. Take our utilities for example. Turn on the tap and you expect the water to flow out and down the drain it goes. Flip a switch on the wall and voilà, the light turns on. Same with gas, when it’s cold out the furnace kicks on because the natural gas was delivered to your house underground through a network of pipes. Most utilities these days are underground and the only thing you see on the surface in newer areas are the green boxes on your lawn and of course the streetlights. Being involved in the utility industry for years I can assure you the majority of the populace never consider the utilities until it comes time to pay for these products. Obviously there is often so much more to any business than meets the eye and without customers there would be no need for the business. No business = no employees.
Employee safety is, and should be, a huge part of any business. If you look around Chestermere it’s hard to not notice the enormous towers in the open field running through the town from end to end. These steel towers carry electricity (a HUGE amount of electricity) to many areas of the province. I admire the people who work on these towers as they have a great deal of training and experience to repair all the various components and make sure Albertans get a valuable product we so heavily rely upon. AltaLink currently (pun intended) maintains 12, 000 kilometres of transmission lines, the lines and towers you see in Chestermere. They plan to build an innovative training facility near Langdon Alberta. This facility will improve safety for Alberta’s transmission linemen and contribute to a more reliable electric system for Albertans. Currently, they train on energized facilities connected to Alberta’s electric system and to me that’s just scary as you know what. So, with employee safety in mind, AltaLink is planning to build a training facility that is non-energized.
The proposed training facility will allow their employees to practice highly specialized maintenance activities and safety procedures on 19 full-scale non-energized transmission structures; Whew!! now that just makes sense. Kevin Strangway, former lineman and director of field operations at AltaLink, says “We face ever growing pressure to keep the lights on in a province with a booming population and extreme weather. Albertans expect and deserve reliable electricity, and we work hard to ensure they get it. Being able to learn and train in a managed and safe environment will go a long way to easing that pressure,” he adds. The AltaLink Line Training Facility, proposed to be located southwest of the hamlet of Langdon, will be the first transmission focused training facility in Alberta. New tools and techniques were the driving force behind constructing a facility like this. AltaLink’s transmission system delivers electricity to 85% of Albertans. AltaLink owns the land and has applied for rezoning which could take up to a year. The training facility is estimated to cost $2 million initially and will make the offer to other electricity suppliers such as Enmax and Fortis to do their own training at the AltaLink training centre. In addition, there are future plans to eventually move their Southern Alberta Field Offices which are presently in Calgary to the Langdon site. AltaLink have approximately 600 employees and 50 of them are linemen. Check out their website at www.altalink.ca.