By: ELOISE WALTON
POWER LINES due to be erected across 400km of Portugal between 2009 and 2014 will be as far away from urban areas “as possible” to minimise the visual impact, says the president of national electricity company REN.
José Penedos, President of the Redes Eléctricas Nacionais (REN), speaking in Porto on March 11, said: “REN is not chasing people. REN respects them, as it respects the planning of territory and sustainability.”
José Penedos also said that REN is looking to significantly increase the amount of renewable energy in Portugal, with a predicted 8,000 megawatts of wind generated energy and 7,000 megawatts of hydro electric power by 2019, which will come from the 10 dams that are being planned.
With REN’s projects to construct new links between the national power lines and those of Spain, in the north of Porto with Galiza and in the Algarve with Andaluzia, an increase of 1,700 megawatts of electricity is predicted by 2013.
All of the projects that REN carries out are available to be viewed beforehand, during a period of public consultation in order to “erode as quickly as possible any opposition to the new power lines,” he said.
To better inform the public, REN has issued a pamphlet, in Portuguese, to answer many of the frequent questions asked about power lines. These questions and answers cover topics such as health concerns, licensing, planning of routes for pylons and the reasons for choosing to erect them above ground instead of running power cables underground.
In the pamphlet, REN says that electromagnetic fields produced surrounding power lines are not a health hazard, and are classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as posing the same risk to humans as drinking coffee or eating pickles.
Power lines are legally allowed to be placed over houses and on private property, according to current Portuguese law, however REN says its policy is to avoid as much as possible this type of situation occurring.
The Resident received an email from a reader who supplied the photograph above, showing a pylon that has been erected very close to houses in Bica, near Vale Fuzeiros. Despite the minister of economy, Manuel Pinho saying that these pylons were to be dismantled and an alternative route constructed north of the Vale Fuzeiros area, REN is still proposing to use the existing structures.
REN says its choice of using predominantly over ground pylons, as opposed to underground power cables, is because they are cheaper to erect, costing around 200,000 euros per kilometre instead of between two and six million euros per kilometre.
Pylons are also faster to maintain and repair, taking between one and two days, while it can take one to two months to repair underground cables.
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