Extension of time – Wind farm requirements
In this decision, the AUC granted Capital Power Generation Services Inc. (“Capital Power”) a time extension to construct the 148-megawatt wind power plant and associated substation designated as the Halkirk 2 Wind Power Project (the “Project”) and a revision to a stakeholder consultation date, which was Condition 6 of Approval 22563-D02-2018 (the “Original Approval”).
The Original Approval and associated permit allowed Capital Power to construct and operate the Project. Construction was to be completed by December 31, 2019. On November 1, 2019, Capital Power filed applications with the AUC for approval of a time extension to complete construction of the Project. Capital Power also applied for a revision to the date specified in Condition 6 of the Original Approval.
Capital Power stated that due to commercial reasons including uncertainty surrounding the provincial regulatory regime in 2019, it had not yet commenced construction of the Project and would not meet the construction completion date of December 31, 2019. It requested a new completion date of December 1, 2022, for the Project.
The applications also requested approval to revise the date specified in Condition 6 of the Original Approval, which required consultation with a stakeholder regarding the location of a turbine and advising the AUC of the results of that consultation. Capital Power requested that the AUC extend the date specified for Condition 6 to July 15, 2021.
The AUC found that Capital Power demonstrated that the requested time extension was of a minor nature and was not expected to affect the compliance of the Project with the permissible sound levels outlined in Rule 012, nor result in any new effects on the environment. The AUC considered it significant that the requested time extension was for less than three years, which would result in an in-service date less than five years from the Original Approval.
The Original Approval addressed noise issues for a proposed new residence. The AUC again confirmed that to achieve compliance with Rule 012: Noise Control, permissible sound levels accounting for the new residence had to be achieved. Given the uncertainty with the number of storeys associated with the new residence, which would affect the operating modes of certain turbines to achieve permissible sound levels, the AUC did not alter these conditions of the Original Approval. The AUC directed Capital Power to operate the wind turbines in such a manner as to achieve compliance with the permissible sound levels accounting for the new residence.
The AUC expected Capital Power to update all wildlife surveys and the renewable energy referral report as needed to ensure they remain current.
The AUC noted that Rule 033: Post-approval Monitoring Requirements for Wind and Solar Power Plants came into force on July 1, 2019, and applies to all wind projects approved after September 1, 2019. The AUC noted that Capital Power must comply with the requirements of Rule 033, including the requirement that approval holders submit to AEP and the AUC annual post-construction monitoring survey reports for the period recommended by AEP in the Project’s referral report, and amended a condition of the Original Approval to reflect this. The AUC further noted that following Rule 033 coming into force, a number of the environmental conditions imposed in the Original Approval were no longer necessary.
The AUC also noted that the Conservation and Reclamation Regulation was amended to specifically address the reclamation of wind projects in Alberta. The effect of these amendments is that “renewable energy operations,” which include wind projects, are now expressly subject to the reclamation obligations. Operators of renewable energy projects are now required to obtain a reclamation certificate at the project’s end of life. This made another condition from the Original Approval unnecessary.
The AUC approved the change in timing for Condition 6 and found the requested time extension and the alteration of the timing of Condition 6 to be in the public interest.