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Drumheller Solar Corporation – Drumheller Solar and Battery Storage Project, AUC Decision 25234-D01-2020

Link to Decision Summarized

Facilities – Solar – Battery Storage


In this decision the AUC considered applications from Drumheller Solar Corporation (“DSC”) to construct and operate a solar power plant and a battery energy storage system designated as the Drumheller Solar and Battery Storage Project and to connect the project to ATCO Electric Ltd.’s (“ATCO’s”) 25-kilovolt electric distribution system. The AUC approved the applications.

Introduction and Application Details

On December 24, 2019, DSC applied with the AUC to seek an approval to construct and operate a 13.5-megawatt (“MW”) solar power plant and a battery energy storage system (“BESS”) with a nameplate capacity and storage capacity of eight MW and eight megawatt-hours, respectively. The project would be located southeast of Drumheller within the municipal boundary of the town of Drumheller. DSC also applied to connect the project to the Alberta Interconnected Electric System (“AIES”) via ATCO’s 25-kilovolt distribution system. The applications were filed under sections 11 and 18 of the Hydro and Electric Energy Act.

DSC confirmed that the BESS would be charged exclusively from the solar power plant and would not be charged by the AIES. DSC also confirmed that the combined project export to the AIES would not exceed 13.5 MW.

DSC outlined the safety and control systems for the project. DSC explained that in the very unlikely event of a thermal runaway, the automatic fire suppression system would respond to the combustion event.

A solar glare report was conducted, which estimated that the project would produce solar glare at two of the seven dwellings used as receptors as well as along Highway 10.

Effects on the Environment

An environmental evaluation concluded that the potential adverse effects of the project could be avoided, reduced, or controlled with implementation of the standard and project-specific mitigation measures outlined in the environmental evaluation.

Findings

The AUC reviewed the applications and determined that the technical, siting, emissions, environmental and noise aspects of the power plant were met. DSC’s participant involvement program was conducted, and there were no outstanding public or industry objections or concerns.

The AUC noted that neither the legislative scheme nor the AUC’s rules specifically address battery storage. DSC filed the application as a solar power plant with a BESS. The AUC, therefore, considered the implications of the battery storage project in that context. In accordance with Section 17 of the Alberta Utilities Commission Act, the AUC must assess whether the Drumheller Solar and Battery Storage Project is in the public interest, having regard to the associated social, economic, and other effects of the project, and its effect on the environment.

The AUC considered that the public interest would be largely met if an application complies with existing regulatory standards, and the project’s public benefits outweigh its negative impacts.

The AUC determined that the application was in the public interest and that all requirements for the project would be satisfied. The AUC approved the application to construct and operate the project subject to the following conditions:

a. DSC will conduct post-construction carcass surveys and wildlife monitoring for a minimum of one year in accordance with the standards outlined in the Wildlife Directive for Alberta Solar Energy Projects (2017); and

b. DSC shall submit a post-construction monitoring survey report to Alberta Environment and Parks (“AEP”) and the AUC within 13 months of the project becoming operational. Based on the findings of the report, additional post-construction carcass surveys and wildlife monitoring may be required to determine the effectiveness of any additional mitigation measures required by AEP.

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