• Alberta's Electricity System
  • FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Will my Global Positioning System (GPS) equipment be affected by the transmission line?
Q. How are irrigation systems taken into consideration during transmission line planning?
Q. Why are all new transmission lines not put underground?
Q. Are transmission lines frequently hit by lightning?
Q. Do transmission facilities affect property values?
Q. How can I tell if a power line belongs to AltaLink?
Q. Can I operate my machinery safely near a transmission line?
Q. Can I put fuel in my vehicle while it is under a transmission line?
Q. Will my radio or television reception be affected by a transmission line?
Q. How are nearby wire fences affected by a transmission line?
Q. How does AltaLink maintain the right-of-way?
Q. Can I plant crops under a transmission line?
Q. Can I burn brush or debris under the line?
Q. How close can my buildings be to the transmission line?
Q. What is EMF?


Q. Will my Global Positioning System (GPS) equipment be affected by the transmission line?

A.  Studies examining the use of standard GPS receivers under or near transmission facilities have shown that interference with the reception of GPS signals is unlikely. More information is available in the Fact Sheet: GPS equipment near transmission lines.


Q. How are irrigation systems taken into consideration during transmission line planning?

A. We strive to minimize any impact on irrigation systems and will work with landowners to find solutions that result in minimal – if any – loss of irrigable land. More information is available in the Fact Sheet: Irrigation systems near transmission lines.


Q. Why are all new transmission lines not put underground?

Underground transmission cables can be an alternative to the more common above ground transmission lines. Placing transmission cables underground is generally only considered when above ground is not a viable option or in areas of high population density. AltaLink will consider the use of underground transmission technology on a project by project basis. More information is available in the Fact Sheet: Underground transmission lines.


Q. Are transmission lines frequently hit by lightning?

A. Almost all of AltaLink’s transmission structures are equipped with Overhead Shield Wires (OHSW) to protect equipment from lightning strikes. Much like the lightning needles on top of high-rise buildings, the OHSW protects the transmission lines by providing a safe path that leads the lightning energy to the ground. More information is available in the Fact Sheet: Lightning and transmission structures.


Q. Do transmission facilities affect property values?

A. Landowners often ask this question, and there is no simple answer.  Previous studies have indicated that transmission lines have either a small, or no discernible impact on property values in urban and rural areas and that where an effect is found, it tends to diminish rapidly with distance from the line and to dissipate over time. More information is available in the Fact Sheet: Property values.


Q. How can I tell if a power line belongs to AltaLink?

A. For the most part, transmission lines look different from distribution lines. AltaLink owns and operates transmission lines, which are higher voltage than distribution lines. If in doubt, please give us a call.


Q. Can I operate my machinery safely near a transmission line?

A. Please contact 3rdpartyrequests [at] altalink [dot] ca for questions regarding working near transmission lines.


Q. Can I put fuel in my vehicle while it is under a transmission line?

A. We don’t recommend fueling vehicles under transmission lines. If you must fuel a vehicle under a line, make sure to ground both the fuel container and the vehicle so any sources of sparks are eliminated.


Q. Will my radio or television reception be affected by a transmission line?

A. Cable or satellite television reception is not affected by transmission lines, therefore reception problems are unlikely. However, if you use an antenna for your television and are experiencing reception problems, we can usually fix them easily. But we can’t do anything about poor reception you might have had before the line was built.

If you would like us to measure your television reception, or if you think you might be experiencing poor television reception as a result of a transmission line, please let us know. Global Positioning Systems (GPS) should also not be affected by transmission facilities, but if you’d like us to come and check your system please give us a call.


Q. How are nearby wire fences affected by a transmission line?

A. AltaLink will make sure your fences are safe to touch. Let us know if you put up new fences or gates near the line and we’ll make sure they are safe and our access to the right-of-way is maintained. We can also protect nearby electric fences upon request.


Q. How does AltaLink maintain the right-of-way?

A. Because trees can be a safety hazard near transmission lines, AltaLink prefers to keep the right-of-way free of trees. This is done by mechanical (cutting) or chemical control (herbicide spraying).

However, if the trees are of value and the landowner wants to keep them, when possible, we will trim them when they grow too close to the wires. If you are planning to plant trees on or close to the right-of-way, please contact AltaLink for the best location and varieties to plant.

Weed control around the poles or towers is the responsibility of the landowner. The cost of weed control is one of the items included in the annual structure payments.


Q. Can I plant crops under a transmission line?

A. Yes, the land under a transmission line can be farmed.


Q. Can I burn brush or debris under the line?

A. Never start a fire under or near a transmission line because the smoke or hot air could create a conductive path to the ground. The poles or towers could also be damaged by a brush fire. Smoke plumes from equipment exhaust are not a concern.


Q. How close can my buildings be to the transmission line?

A. Buildings and structures (houses, garages, sheds, quonsets, light standards, antennas, masts, etc.) are not permitted on the transmission line right-of-way. Buildings and structures could also require additional setback from the edge of the right-of-way in order to maintain regulated safety standards.

The safe distance between buildings and transmission lines depends on the voltage of the line, the type of construction, building type and height, and location. If you want to erect a new building after the line is built, contact us and we will advise you of the distance requirements.

Electrical charges will not normally build up on most buildings close to lines because the plumbing, wiring or the frame usually grounds them. AltaLink will ground any metal buildings that could store an electrical charge.


Q. What is EMF?

A. EMF is short for Electric and Magnetic Fields. EMF are found virtually everywhere electricity is used in our modern society, for example, EMF exists around household wiring, electrical appliances and transmission lines.

AltaLink recognizes that some people are concerned about EMF, and we treat those concerns very seriously. AltaLink provides information to people who have questions to keep them informed about the status of EMF research, as summarized by national and international scientific and health agencies, including Health Canada and the World Health Organization. AltaLink does not conduct health research but does take measurements of fields near its facilities.

After more than 30 years of research that includes thousands of studies and reviews by multiple agencies, none of these agencies have concluded that exposure to EMF from power lines is a demonstrated cause of any long-term adverse effects to human, plant or animal health. They have not recommended that the general public take steps to limit their everyday exposure to EMF.

Related Attachments

In This Section
Alberta's Electricity System
Rewarding Careers at AltaLink
Rewarding Careers at AltaLink
At AltaLink, we are doing everything in our power to attract the best and brightest.
Did You Know?
Workplace Safety at AltaLink
Essential services that are critical to Albertans, such as hospitals, rely on large amounts of power. On average, hospitals
use 1,875,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity a month.