Electricity – Facilities
In this decision, the AUC approved a needs identification document (“NID”) application from the Alberta Electric System Operator (“AESO”) and facility applications from Garden Plain Wind Energy I Inc. (“Garden Plain”), ATCO Electric Ltd. (“AE”) and AltaLink Management Ltd. (“AML”) for the proposed Garden Plain Wind Power Plant Connection Project (the “Wind Project”).
The applications in this proceeding sought approval of the need for and facilities required to connect the Wind Project to the Alberta Interconnected Electric System (“AIES”). Garden Plain applied for approval to construct and operate a substation required to connect the Wind Project to the AIES. Garden Plain also requested system access service (“SAS”) from the AESO in response to which the AESO filed a needs application to the AUC to construct a transmission circuit to connect the substation to an existing 240-kilovolt transmission line.
AE and AML each filed facility applications requesting approval from the AUC for the specific equipment proposed to meet the need identified by the AESO. Garden Plain applied for approval to construct and operate a collector substation, where all collector lines from each wind turbine of the power plant would terminate. Garden Plain applied for a 20-MVA reactive capacitor bank but noted that the size was not yet finalized and that it would file an amendment application in this regard if a different size is required. The AUC was satisfied that Garden Plain’s application met the applicable requirements.
In response to Garden Plain’s request for SAS, the AESO filed a needs identification application with the AUC, pursuant to Subsection 34(1)(c) of the Electric Utilities Act (“EUA”). The AUC found that the AESO’s NID contains all of the information required. As no person disputed the AESO’s assessment of the need, the AUC considered the assessment of the need to be correct and approved the AESO’s application.
AE applied for approval to construct and operate approximately 160 meters of 240-kV transmission line, designated to connect the proposed substation to the existing Transmission Line 9L59 (“TL-9L59”). Additionally, AE applied for permission to add a structure and a T-tap configuration to TL-9L59. AE further applied for permission to install approximately two kilometers (“km”) of telecommunications fiber optic cable along Transmission Line 9LA59. AE’s applications were collectively referred to as the “AE Project”.
AE explained that it selected the route for the new transmission line as it is the most direct route between the connecting points and as it would avoid conflict with other infrastructure. The route of the new transmission line and of the fiber optic cable also runs within the existing right-of-way. AE stated that the AE Project is not expected to have adverse environmental effects and committed to comply with the environmental protection plan and with any direction provided by Alberta Environment and Parks. The AUC determined that the application meets all applicable requirements of the HEEA and Rule 007.
AML filed an application for approval to construct and operate a four-km underground fiber optic cable to support the connection of the Wind Project to the grid. This serves to enable active monitoring of the grid and to ensure safe and reliable operation. AML also applied to modify existing and install new protection and control, supervisory control and data acquisition (“SCADA”), and telecommunications equipment at three existing substations and to install new telecommunications equipment inside the existing control building at its Oakland 946S Substation. The need for this equipment was outlined in the AESO’s needs application.
The AUC determined that the application met the requirements of the HEEA and Rule 007. The AUC further noted that AE’s proposed routing of the fiber optic cable within existing road allowances and requires no additional right-of-way and minimizes possible adverse environmental effects. The AUC found that approval of all applications subject to this proceeding is in the public interest in accordance with Section 17 of the Alberta Utilities Commission Act.