In this decision, the AUC approved applications from Dunmore Solar Inc. (“Dunmore”) to construct and operate the Dunmore Solar Project (the “Project”). The Project consists of a 216-megawatt (“MW”) solar power plant and the Dunmore 1011S Substation.
The Dunmore Solar Power Plant would consist of approximately 515,136 solar photovoltaic modules, each with a power rating of 500 watts, 82 inverter/transformer stations, each with a power rating of 2.5 megavolt amperes, an underground 34.5-kilovolt („kV“) collector system, a fence and access roads. The final make and model of the components had not been finalized. The Dunmore Solar Power Plant would have a total generating capability of 216-MW for delivery to the Alberta Interconnected Electric System (“AIES”). The associated substation would increase the voltage from the collector voltage of 34.5 kV to the transmission system voltage of 138 kV. The Project is located on 623 acres of privately-owned land.
Dunmore stated that the interconnection point to the AIES would be to an existing AltaLink Management Ltd. (“AltaLink”) transmission line. This interconnection would be subject to a future application from AltaLink.
Discussion and Findings
The AUC found that the application complied with the information requirements set out in Rule 007: Applications for Power Plants, Substations, Transmission Lines, Industrial System Designations and Hydro Developments. It further found that the participant involvement program met the requirements of Rule 007.
Regarding Indigenous consultation, the AUC was satisfied that Dunmore’s consultation with the Blood Tribe, Piikani Nation and Siksika Nation, which raised no concerns, was appropriate.
The AUC found the environmental impacts of the Project to be acceptable, considering the risk assessment of Alberta Environment and Parks (“AEP”) that indicated a low risk to wildlife and wildlife habitat posed by the Project.
AEP ranked the Project a high risk to wetlands. It noted that the Project would be constructed over six seasonal wetlands (Class III) and would not comply with the 100-meter setbacks for four seasonal (Class III) and one semi-permanent (Class IV) wetlands. The alternative mitigations proposed by Dunmore would not protect wetland habitat from permanent loss.
Dunmore committed to conducting sensitive amphibian surveys at all seasonal and semi-permanent wetlands prior to construction and notifying AEP of the results. AEP noted that Dunmore committed to several alternative mitigation methods during construction within the 100-meter wetland setbacks to minimize and eliminate the remaining risks.
Field studies completed by Dunmore indicated that it is unlikely that sensitive amphibians will use wetlands for breeding habitats that have been cultivated in the past.
At the time of the application, Dunmore had not submitted a renewable energy operations conservation and reclamation plan (“C&R Plan“) as set out in AEP’s Conservation and Reclamation Directive for Renewable Energy Operations. Dunmore committed to completing and submitting the final C&R Plan for the Project by September 20, 2021. The AUC imposed a corresponding condition of approval.
To further ensure the compliance of the Project with applicable rules and requirements, the AUC imposed multiple conditions of approval. Dunmore must submit a post-construction monitoring report as required by Rule 033. Further, to align assumptions of the application regarding glare, Dunmore is required to use an anti-reflective coating on the Project solar panels. Dunmore is also required to address issues related to glare that arise in a timely manner and file a report with the AUC detailing the issues that arose and how they were addressed no later than 13 months after the Project comes into operation. As Dunmore had not finalized its selection of equipment for the Project, the AUC also required that Dunmore file a letter once the selection is completed that confirms that the Project continues to abide by the applicable rules and that impacts of the Project remain within the values and levels approved in this decision.
The AUC determined that approval of the applications is in the public interest and approved the application to construct and operate the Dunmore Solar Project pursuant to sections 11, 14, 15 and 19 of the Hydro and Electric Energy Act.