Howlan residents want high- voltage power lines removed

·3 min read

Residents of one West Prince community want the high voltage lines running along their road to be moved.

In 2006, heavy- duty transmission lines were installed to move the energy generated at West Cape Wind Energy Inc. from the St. Anthony substation to the Sherbrooke substation.

The big lines weren’t a welcome addition and have been an eyesore and a worry for some for more than a decade.

“Our main concern is health issues,” said Juanita Gallant.

She and 53 other residents on the Howlan Road submitted a petition in the provincial legislature to ask for the lines to be moved away from their homes.

“I know that they keep saying there’s no proof, but out of this area alone, 75 per cent of the homes have people with cancer,” she said.

In 2008, most of the highvoltage lines were moved but not all and, of the homes still near the lines, 10 out of 14 have been touched by cancer. Her next- door neighbour has lost four pets to what the vet called “environmental cancer,” she said.

“Of course they’re saying that there’s no proof that they cause cancer, we feel that that’s proof alone.”

High- voltage lines are larger than the regular lines and Gallant says she can hear the electricity snap and sizzle in wet weather.

The 60 kilometres of transmission lines between St. Anthony and Sherbrooke were built to carry 138,000 volts with an additional circuit capable of doubling that.

This summer, the federal and provincial governments announced a $ 44- million partnership to build 106 kilometres of transmission lines from Skinners Pond to Sherbrooke.

O’Leary- Inverness MLA Robert Henderson said it’s the right time for the Howlan Road poles to be moved.

“Those residents have been patient,” said Henderson.

“To me it’s the time to do it, because you can reuse all the lines, the insulators ... it would be the most cost effective way to do it.”

Henderson says any research he’s read on the health impacts of high voltage lines has been inconclusive.

“But the fact that it’s inconclusive, then you can’t put people’s minds at ease that there may be a health factor to these things. But I guess it’s like anything, there’s always a risk to everything, it depends on how close they are to you.

“If you have them very close to your residential home, where you spend a lot of time, there’s a greater risk of it happening than if they’re a lot farther away from your home,” said Henderson.

Despite repeated requests from the Journal Pioneer, Infrastructure Minister Steven Myers was not made available to comment on the petition or the residents’ concerns.

In question period on Dec. 1, Myers did commit to reviewing the issue and to meeting with Henderson and the community to discuss it further.

“It is very important that we have the corridor and it’s very important that we have access to the wind, and it’s very important that we get the wind to the market, which is the rest of Prince Edward Island,” said Myers in question period. “I will commit to having it reviewed.”

Alison Jenkins, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Journal-Pioneer