It makes me wonder though, why it is that endless rows of windmills don't seem to elicit a similar kind of public reaction (with notable exceptions, such as scenic seashore locales -- see http://www.saveoursound.org/windspin.html ).
Maybe Hydro-Quebec should redesign its transmission line towers to look like windmills -- with the HV cables spanning from (fixed) blade-tip to blade tip ?
As they say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, isn't it ?
Maybe there is indeed a better route for running the new transmission line.
But the crack about EMF-leukemia links smacks of scare mongering.
The Montreal Gazette, 26 January, 2003How to ruin a scenic highway in one easy lesson
HYDRO-QUEBEC BLIGHTS AUTOROUTE
Huge pylons carrying 735-kilovolt line mar the views of the Eastern Townships
JON A. BRESLAW
Hydro-Quebec has been working hard to complete the huge 735-kilovolt transmission line linking the Hertel and Des Cantons substations, with the aim of transporting 2,000 megawatts of electricity, starting in the first quarter of 2004.
But this massive project - born in the aftermath of the 1998 ice storm - is mired in controversy. The Parti Quebecois government had to pass Bill 42 to overcome the legal impediments blocking construction of the line - including retroactively waiving the need for environmental hearings by the Bureau d’audiences publiques sur 1’environnement for the 100 kilometres of line already constructed.
As usual for megaprojects of this type, there are costs and benefits. The benefits include a more secure electricity supply for Montreal, and the provision of infrastructure to export more power to the U.S. The costs include a line of towers stretching over 125 kilometres of countryside. So rationally, you’d expect Hydro to situate the line to minimize its visual impact, but you’d be wrong to do so- very wrong.
For 30 kilometres, the Hertel line runs next to Highway 10, the Eastern Townships Autoroute. That’s next to as in right beside the autoroute on the northern side, with a couple of crossovers to the south to miss a farm or two.
Now no one likes hydro lines. They are by any measure ugly, so we have a NIMBY (not-in-my- backyard) situation anyway. But by slapping the Hertel line right next to the autoroute, Hydro-Quebec ensures that as many people as possible are subjected to this eyesore.
Now, let’s step back a second, and ask why Hydro shouldn’t, under any circumstances, run a huge 735-kilovolt power line next to a scenic highway.
First, the Eastern Townships Autoroute is (or was) one of the nicer highways in Quebec, cutting through rich, flat farmlands with views all the way to the horizon. The 18-storey power towers dwarf the grain silos and barns, transforming beauty into ugliness, the Shire into Mordor. Scenic highways are an important part of the tourist infrastructure - indeed, our neighbor to the south spends a significant amount on highway beautification. Our government spends on highway uglification. And tourism is really important to Quebec.
If we estimate conservatively that about 10 vehicles travel down the autoroute in each direction every minute, that meansabout 30,000 vehicles - and thus about 40,000 people - are being subjected to this visual impact every day. This type of construction might be undertaken by an occupying force with no regard for the inhabitants’ welfare, but hardly by one’s own government.
The line’s positioning also raisesserious health concerns. Sticking such a line next to a major highway means that cars - heavy metal objects moving at an average 120 km/h - will spend about 15 minutes in the highintensity electromagnetic field. It’s not clear what the effect of this type of exposure will be. We know that hydro workers exposed to high levels of electrical fields have elevated levels of leukemia. The car might provide shielding, but then again, it might not. But nobody in their right mind would want to expose 40,000 or so people a day to a potential health threat. Personally, I prefer not to be part of this experiment, and will take Highway 104.
So why has Hydro placed the line so inappropriately? Why has the PQ not subjected Hydro to some elements of sanity? In the 1960s, we might have viewed a hydro line along an autoroute as a symbol of progress. Forty years later, we see it for what it is: urban blight. But blight for no good reason. Almost any other route is less intrusive.