Expert systems for environmental self-assessment, a case study of Manitoba hydro sub-transmission lines, 66kv, in the rural municipality of Whitemouth

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Hood, James W.
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According to the Manitoba Environment Act, Classes of Development Regulation 164/88, the construction of transmission lines of less than 115 kV capacity does not require a formal environmental assessment. However, Manitoba Hydro voluntarily assesses the biophysical and socio-economic impacts of sub-transmission line (66 kV) development in a process referred to as environmental self assessment. As many assessments must be performed by Hydro on many low voltage projects, the self assessment procedure must be consistent, efficient, and economical. An expert system is a computer program that can be programmed with expert knowledge and be used as a decision support tool. Expert systems give non-experts access to an expert's knowledge, and give experts a source of supplementary information. The use of expert systems technology should be well suited to making assessments consistent, efficient, and economical. This study addressed the feasibility of using expert system technologies to assist in the environmental self assessment process for sub-transmission lines (66 kV) in the Rural Municipality of Whitemouth. Information was collected through a series of interviews and programmed into a prototype expert system using the expert system shell VP Expert. The prototype system, PREASES, contains: contact information for the various agencies, agency concerns, and the information required to obtain the regulatory approvals for a sub-transmission line. The study concluded that expert systems can be used to improve the environmental self assessment process. PREASES predicted the approvals that would be required and made recommendations as to how to obtain those approvals.