Working Around Transmission Lines
AltaLink operates approximately 13,000 kilometres of transmission lines and 300 substations - a network that transports electricity across the province in the blink of an eye. Our transmission lines are located on rights-of-way (ROWs) or in road allowances or highway rights-of-way.
A right-of-way (ROW) is a strip of land required for the construction, maintenance and safe operation of a transmission line. A ROW refers to the physical space in which a transmission line is located and includes areas on either side of the transmission line structures and the conductors, which are the wires that carry the electricity.
A road allowance or highway right-of-way is a strip of land set aside by the Province of Alberta for roads, but also provides for other facilities, such as powerlines. Transmission lines are often located within 1 metre of the boundary of the road allowance or highway right-of-way to reduce the impact on private landowners. Road allowance may be developed or undeveloped, but the same safety precautions always apply.
To ensure the safety of the public and the reliability of Alberta's electrical system, we work with landowners, developers, municipalities and companies to ensure that our transmission lines in rights-of way (ROWs), road allowances and highway rights-of-way are properly managed
When to contact AltaLink
To help us to ensure your safety and the reliability of the electrical system, you must contact us by filling out a ROW Use Application when you are planning any use of or alteration within AltaLink's ROW.
In addition, some land uses and alterations outside the AltaLink ROW but near transmission lines have the potential to impact safety and reliability. For this reason, AltaLink requests and strongly encourages you to notify us if you are planning to use land, build new structures, or make alterations to existing structures that are adjacent to a ROW or transmission line by filling out a Proximity Notification form. We recommend that you contact us if your use or alteration is within 30 metres (approximately 100 feet) of the nearest transmission line conductor. This includes uses or alterations adjacent to AltaLink transmission lines in road allowance or highway right-of-way. We will review your proposal and will work with you to develop safe working conditions as necessary.
You may also have a legislative obligation to contact AltaLink for certain developments in proximity to a utility ROW. Industrial land uses, such as gravel pits, mines, well sites and pipelines may be subject to special regulations. The following table lists industrial uses and the recommendation notification distances:
|Land Use||Recommended Notification Distance||Reference|
|Pipelines||300 m (~985 ft)||Canadian Standards Association (CSA) standard C22.3 NO.6-13 Principles and Practices of Electrical Coordination Between Pipelines and Electric Supply Lines|
|Well Sites||100 m (~330 ft)||Alberta Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERBC) Directive 056|
|Seismic Exploration Activities||60 m (~200 ft)||Exploration Directive ED2006-15|
|Gravel Pits||30 m (~100 ft)||Alberta Occupational Health & Safety Code subsections 535(1) and 535(2)|
ROW Use Applications & Proximity Notifications
There are two types of forms that may be submitted to AltaLink:
- ROW Use Application for uses within the AltaLink ROW
- Proximity Notifications for uses adjacent to the AltaLink ROW or transmission line
If you are unsure whether your proposed activity is within the AltaLink ROW, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can assist you.
Once you have determined the appropriate form to submit, please complete the following steps:
- Complete the ROW Use Application OR Proximity Notification (PDF).
- Complete the appropriate crossing/data sheet or drawing for the type of work. See the attached for Samples of Work (PDF) document and Blank Survey Data Sheets (PDF).
- Submit all documents to email@example.com
If you have a detailed cover sheet that includes all of the information above, you can submit that in lieu of 1 and 2. However, please include whether you are submitting a ROW Use Application or Proximity Notification in the subject of your email.
Please allow up to two weeks for feedback on Proximity Notifications, and up to four weeks for ROW Use Agreements.
For uses within the ROW, AltaLink will review your completed ROW Use Application and look at whether your proposal is compatible with the Alberta's Electrical Utility Code and Occupational Health and Safety Standards, as well as AltaLink's safety, reliability and access requirements. If your proposal is found to have a potential impact, AltaLink will work with you to identify and recommend adjustments or modifications that could be made to your proposal to minimize these impacts.
If your application is compatible with applicable regulations and our requirements, we will create an AltaLink ROW Use Agreement for you to sign and return. Please do not start your activities until you have signed and returned the ROW Use Agreement. In some situations we may request an on-site meeting to review safety procedures prior to any work being completed.
For uses or alterations adjacent to the ROW or transmission line, AltaLink will review your proposal and determine whether any additional safe working conditions are required. To ensure your safety, we request that you do not start your activities until you have received written confirmation from AltaLink.
A number of factors are taken into consideration during the review process, including:
- Your safety and the safety of others
- The reliability of the electrical system and the need to ensure that AltaLink has unrestricted access to its transmission facilities at all times
- Future requirements for additions, modifications and maintenance of the transmission line
- The rights and obligations of both the landowner and AltaLink outlined in the ROW Agreement
Thank you for your cooperation as we work to ensure the safety of the public and the reliability of the electrical system.
We look forward to working with you.
If you believe you have not received a satisfactory response through your normal contacts, or you do not know who to call, please contact:
Toll Free: 1-877-380-0303
Examples of uses and activities in the right-of-way or adjacent to a transmission line that do not require review and coordination with AltaLink:
- General landscaping and residential gardens where:
- There is no change of grade
- There are no underground services
- No metal irrigation pipes will be placed within the ROW
- Livestock grazing
- Agricultural uses provided that access to AltaLink's facilities is maintained and agricultural equipment is less than 4.3 metres (14 feet) in height.
Examples of uses and activities in and adjacent to the right-of-way or transmission line that require coordination with AltaLink:
- Agricultural equipment greater than 4.3 metres (14 feet) in height to highest point (such as an antenna)
- Tree felling or logging and related activities
- Installing fences where grounding for prevention of nuisance shock may be necessary
- Playgrounds and tennis courts
- Developing hiking and equestrian trails, paths and walkways
- Planting trees and other vegetation
- Adding garden sheds and other outbuildings
- Building driveways and access roads
- Commercial and long-term parking
- Adding fill, berms and retaining walls
- Operating irrigation systems
- Changing the elevation or grade of the ROW
- Building roads (including private roads, public road crossings and highways)
- Performing underground work or installing underground facilities (e.g. pipelines - sewer/water/gas, irrigation, septic)
- Blasting of any sort
Examples of uses and activities that will not be approved within the ROW:
- Adding new water ponds or wetlands
- Storing garbage receptacles
- Permanent storage of material or debris
- Adding buildings
- Adding portions of non-habitable buildings (e.g. garages and carports)
Compatible right-of-way guidelines for:
Roads that lie immediately adjacent to or within the boundaries of the ROW will be considered on a site-specific basis. Roads, including driveways, are generally compatible within the ROW provided that:
- The finished grade maintains the minimum electrical clearance requirements to overhead wires , as specified by AltaLink and industry standards
- The road crosses the ROW at or near 90 degree angles
- Adequate physical barriers are in place where the road location poses a risk of collisions between vehicles and AltaLink facilities (AltaLink will provide written approval)
Landscaping and trees within the ROW
Transmission line wires can sag in increased hot or cold weather and may swing in strong winds. Trees or plants growing in or along the edge of a transmission line ROW can become a potential hazard when there is a risk of the tree falling or branches dropping onto the transmission line. Trees that become a fire risk or a safety hazard will be identified for removal at AltaLink's discretion. Before any work commences, we contact property owners to discuss the work required.
Landscaping and agricultural uses are generally compatible within ROW provided that:
- The height and species of trees are approved by AltaLink and, if required, are trimmed to maintain safe clearance from transmission line wires
- Landscaping does not limit AltaLink's crews and equipment in accessing the transmission facilities
Operation of construction vehicles and machinery within the ROW
Use of construction vehicles and machinery within the ROW may be compatible provided that:
- Occupational Health and Safety Regulations are followed
- Vehicles and machinery should not approach within a minimum of six metres (20 feet) horizontal distance of AltaLink's facilities without specific review
- All equipment remains seven metres (23 feet) from any transmission line wire at all times unless another distance is specifically provided by AltaLink in writing
- Soil stability and drainage are maintained so as not to impact AltaLink's facilities
- Any excavation or increase in ground elevations are pre-approved by AltaLink in writing
- There is no storage of fuels, refuelling or maintenance of vehicles within the ROW
- Site safety plans (including restricted access and designated work areas) may need to be submitted as part of AltaLink's conditions
Operation of agricultural vehicles and machinery within the ROW
The agricultural community plays an important role in hosting the province’s transmission facilities. However, transmission lines are built to the code that is applicable the year that the line was built, which impacts the height of agricultural vehicles that can pass safely under the line.
Use of agricultural vehicles and machinery within the ROW are typically compatible, provided that:
Vehicles and machinery do not approach within a minimum 1 metre (3 feet) horizontal distance of AltaLink's facilities (towers, poles and anchor wires)
Agricultural vehicle height (including antennas) does not exceed 4.3 metres (14 feet) to highest point (such as an antenna)
Soil stability and drainage are maintained so as not to impact AltaLink's facilities
There is no storage of fuels, refueling or maintenance of vehicles within the ROW
Note that many transmission facilities can safely accommodate agricultural vehicle heights greater than 4.3 metres (14 feet). If your vehicle exceeds 4.3 metres (14 feet), please contact AltaLink at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Parking on the ROW may be compatible, provided that:
- Parking is temporary
- All parked vehicles meet the minimum vertical electrical clearance requirements as specified by AltaLink in writing
- A minimum 4 metres (13 feet) zone for access is maintained around AltaLink's facilities (towers, poles and anchor wires)
- Protective barriers are installed, at your expense, for AltaLink's facilities, if required
The finished grade of any parking lot or area maintains the clearance requirements specified by AltaLink.
Preloading in soft soil areas can cause significant ground movement, affecting the stability of AltaLink's poles, towers and underground facilities. This can occur even if the preloading takes place outside of the ROW.