Facilities – Solar Plant – Community Generation
In this decision, the AUC considered applications from Peavine Metis Settlement (“Peavine MS”) to construct and operate a solar power plant designated as the 4.97-Megawatt Community Solar Power Plant, to qualify the power plant as a community generating unit, and to connect the power plant to the ATCO Electric Ltd. distribution system. The AUC found approval of the power plant in the public interest, and also qualified the power plant as a community generating unit and approved the connection of the power plant to the ATCO Electric distribution system.
Peavine MS stated that the project would consist of approximately 14,144 photovoltaic modules with a nominal output of 400 watts per module, two inverter/transformer stations, a collector system, operations offices, and a temporary construction workspace. The project is a community initiative in alignment with the Peavine Community Energy Plan and is supported by the Peavine Metis Settlement Council (“Council”), the elders, and membership. The Council approved two resolutions supporting the project.
Application for Designation As a Community Generating Unit
In support of its application to be qualified as a community generating unit in accordance with the Small Scale Generation Regulation (“SSGR”), Peavine MS provided a community benefit agreement that outlined the economic, social, and environmental benefits of the project.
ATCO Electric confirmed that it had approved the project as a small-scale generator under the SSGR. Should the AUC approve the community generating unit application from Peavine MS, ATCO Electric would cover the cost of a meter and would be responsible for the cost of system reliability upgrades required to supply electric energy from the community generating unit to the distribution system. ATCO Electric estimated the cost for the meter to be $63,000.
The AUC determined that the technical, siting, environmental and noise aspects of the power plant were met. Peavine MS conducted a satisfactory participant involvement program, and there were no outstanding public or industry objections or concerns.
Because the final project equipment has not been selected, the AUC requires additional information once the design of the project is finalized. The AUC therefore approved the project with a condition requiring additional information from Peavine MS once it has made its final equipment selection, confirming that the finalized project design will not increase its land, noise or environmental impacts beyond those reflected in the materials submitted in its application.
The AUC further noted that Rule 033: Post-approval Monitoring Requirements for Wind and Solar Power Plants applies to all solar projects approved after September 1, 2019. Accordingly, Peavine MS must comply with the requirements of Rule 033, including the requirement that approval holders submit to Alberta Environment and Parks (“AEP”) and the AUC annual post-construction monitoring survey reports for the period recommended by AEP in the project’s referral report.
The AUC found that Peavine MS’s application for the project’s designation as a community generating unit satisfied the requirements of the SSGR. It further found that ATCO Electric, as the distribution facility owner, is entitled to recover the costs incurred to purchase the meter for the project (estimated to be $63,000), pursuant to Subsection 5(3)(a)(i) of the SSGR. Accordingly, the AUC imposed a further condition, requiring that once the distribution facility owner has purchased the meter for the community generating unit, Peavine MS must provide confirmation of the actual cost to purchase the meter to the AUC.
Based on the foregoing, the AUC considered the project to be in the public interest in accordance with section 17 of the Alberta Utilities Commission Act.