Facilities, Solar Power Plant
In this decision, the AUC approved an application from Barlow Solar Park Ltd. (“Barlow Solar”) to construct and operate a 27-megawatt solar power plant in the City of Calgary, and to connect the power plant to the Alberta Interconnected Electrical System (collectively, the “Project”).
The Project will be located on previously disturbed land within the City of Calgary, and will consist of approximately 100,000 solar panels grouped into approximately 1,500 rack-mounted fixed-tilt solar panel tables, 10 inverters, five transformer stations with medium voltage step-up transformers, a collector system, an on-site electrical building, an access road, a small area for construction or temporary laydown and storage, and a perimeter fence. The power plant will have a gross generation capability of 17 megawatts.
ENMAX Power Corporation (“ENMAX”) confirmed its willingness to connect the power plan to ENMAX’s 25-kilovolt electric distribution system provided that Barlow Solar demonstrates compliance with applicable rules, standards and ENMAX’s interconnection requirements.
The AUC was satisfied that the technical, siting, emissions, environmental, and noise aspects of the Project met the AUC’s requirements. The AUC was satisfied that Barlow Solar conducted its participant involvement program in accordance with Rule 007.
The AUC noted that Alberta Energy and Parks (“AEP”) did not prepare a renewable energy referral report for this Project, given that the Wildlife Directive for Alberta Solar Energy Projects does not apply to projects in urban areas. The AEP project review letter stated that AEP supports the siting and development of solar projects within urban areas. This is because urban solar projects have limited impact to wildlife and wildlife habitat, have reduced requirements for transmission infrastructure, and reduce development pressure in locations with higher quality wildlife habitat.
The AUC was satisfied that with diligent implementation of the mitigation measures outlined in the environmental evaluation and adherence to commitments made by Barlow Solar, the identified environmental effects of the Project could be mitigated to an acceptable degree.
Rule 033: Post-approval Monitoring Requirements for Wind and Solar Power Plants applies to all solar projects approved after September 1, 2019. Accordingly, Barlow Solar must comply with the requirements of Rule 033. In accordance with Rule 033, as a condition of the approval, the AUC directed Barlow Solar to submit an annual post construction monitoring survey report to AEP and the AUC within 13 months of the Project becoming operational, and on or before the same date every subsequent year for which AEP requires surveys pursuant to subsection 3(3) of Rule 033.
The AUC noted that the glare analysis stated there are buildings between the solar park and Deerfoot Trail S.E. and that the solar park would be surrounded by a perimeter fence at an elevation higher than vehicles travelling on Deerfoot Trail S.E., which would decrease the amount of solar glare drivers could receive to a negligible amount. However, the AUC wanted to ensure that any deleterious glare associated with the Project is addressed by Barlow Solar in a timely manner. Accordingly, as conditions of approval, the AUC required that Barlow Solar use an anti-reflective coating on the Project’s solar panels. The AUC further directed Barlow Solar to file a report detailing any complaints or concerns it receives or is made aware of regarding solar glare from the Project during its first year of operation, as well as Barlow Solar’s response to the complaint.
Barlow Solar had not yet finalized its selection of inverters and panels for this Project, nor finalized the Project’s layout. The AUC therefore directed Barlow Solar, as a condition of approval, to file a letter with the AUC that identifies the make, model, and quantity of the equipment and, if the equipment layout had changed, and an updated site plan. This letter should confirm that the finalized design of the Project will not increase the land, noise and environmental impacts from what was approved by the AUC for the base reference case. The letter must be filed no later than one month before the scheduled commencement of construction.
The AUC approved the Barlow Solar Park power plant application and the interconnection application subject to the noted conditions.