The province's largest regulated electricity transmission provider, AltaLink, is alerting residents of Airdrie and Rocky View County that they will be conducting an aerial inspection of its powerlines this week.

The aerial inspection is part of AltaLink's wildfire mitigation strategy. According to the company's website, it has increased its inspections to twice a year (or more) on lines in high-risk fire areas.

In a news release earlier this month, the company's President and Chief Executive Officer, Gary Hart, said that as wildfires become more frequent and intense, reducing the likelihood that their systems contribute to the ignition of a fire is a critical part of the company's job.

"We’ve seen the devastation that a wildfire can cause to communities in Alberta and across North America and we are taking action to help prevent it from happening," Hart said.

The company added that in 2019 they were the first utility in Alberta to establish a wildfire mitigation plan based on a wildfire model created by external wildfire experts.

"Since then, AltaLink has implemented a series of safety measures and system enhancements to increase situational awareness and mitigate the risk of the transmission system contributing to the ignition of a wildfire."

This includes real-time analysis of weather conditions, increased inspections, enhanced vegetation management activities, asset upgrades and establishing a last resort measure in extreme and dangerous weather conditions called a Public Safety Power Shut-off to de-energize facilities during times of extreme fire weather.

AltaLink underlined that the province experienced a record-breaking wildfire season in 2023 with more than 2.2 million hectares burned, the most in Alberta’s history, compared to the five-year average of 200,000 hectares.

"This year drought conditions, especially in the southern part of the province, will increase the risk of wildfires in Alberta. Alberta is already in Stage 4 (out of 5) in its water shortage management response plan, a level that wasn’t reached until the later months of 2023.

The company said that it has more than 13,300 kilometres of transmission line and 311 substations across the province, with upwards of 85 per cent of Albertans getting power through their grid.  

According to the government's wildfire dashboard,45 wildfires are burning across the province, with two wildfires burning out of control in the northern part of the province. While no active fire advisories are in place near Airdrie, Banff National Park is under a fire advisory, with the fire danger rated as high. As of Monday morning, there were four active provincial emergency alerts, all having to do with wildfires. 

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