Facilities – Wind Power Project
In this decision, the AUC considered whether to approve applications (the “Applications”) from Schuler Wind Energy GP Ltd. (“Schuler”) to construct and operate the Schuler Wind Energy Centre (the “Project”) which would consist of a 104.4-megawatt (“MW)” wind power plant and the associated 1017S Substation (the “Project”). The AUC found that approval of the Project was in the public interest having regard to the social, economic and other effects, including its effect on the environment.
The Project area is located approximately seven kilometres northwest of the hamlet of Schuler and would be sited on 47 quarter sections of privately owned agricultural land.
Schuler stated that the Project would connect to AltaLink Management Ltd.’s existing 138-kV Transmission Line 658L, which crosses some of the Project lands. It stated that interconnection of the Project to the Alberta Interconnected Electric System would be the subject of a separate and future proceeding.
Schuler stated that construction activities are planned to begin as soon as an AUC approval is issued and the Project would be commissioned by December 31, 2024.
A noise impact assessment (“NIA”) was prepared for the Project by SLR Consulting (Canada) Ltd. (“SLR”) to assess Project compliance in accordance with Rule 012: Noise Control. The NIA assessed noise compliance by comparing predicted cumulative sound levels to applicable permissible sound levels (“PSLs”).
Schuler retained Maskwa Environmental Consulting Ltd. to prepare an environmental evaluation report for the Project that described the environmental components present in the Project area, the Project’s potential adverse effects on these components, mitigation measures to reduce these environmental effects and proposed monitoring methods to evaluate the efficacy of those measures.
The 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. Provided that these mitigation measures are implemented, the environmental evaluation concluded that the potential effects of the Project on the environment would not be significant.
In accordance with Section 17 of the Alberta Utilities Commission Act, the AUC was required to assess whether the Project would be in the public interest, having regard to its social, economic and environmental effects. The AUC indicated it considers that the public interest will be largely met if an application complies with existing regulatory standards, and the Project’s public benefits outweigh its negative impacts.
The AUC considered it material that the environmental evaluation concluded that the potential effects of the Project on the environment would not be significant provided that mitigation measures are implemented. The AUC was satisfied that with diligent application of Schuler’s mitigation measures, construction and post-construction monitoring, and implementation of any additional mitigation measures, the potential adverse environmental effects, including those on wildlife and wildlife habitat, from the siting, construction and operation of the Project’s facilities could be adequately mitigated.
Pursuant to section 11 of the Hydro and Electric Energy Act, the AUC approved the Applications.