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Renewable Energy Systems Canada Inc. – Hilda Wind Project, AUC Decision 26569-D01-2021

Link to Decision Summarized

Wind Power – Facilities

In this decision, the AUC approved the applications from Renewable Energy Systems Canada Inc. (“RES”) to construct and operate the Hilda Wind Power Project (the “Project”). The Project consists of a 100-megawatt (“MW”) wind power plant and the Hilda 662S Substation. The Project will be located approximately 80 kilometers northeast of the city of Medicine Hat.


Alberta Environment and Parks (“AEP”) determined that the Project posed a medium risk to wildlife and wildlife habitat. This conclusion was based on consideration of Project-specific factors, including the commitments made by RES to mitigate and monitor wildlife impacts.

AEP determined that the Project posed a moderate risk to native grasslands and wetlands. It determined that the mitigation measures committed to by RES are adequate and align the Project with the intent of the Wildlife Directive for Alberta Wind Projects.

AEP determined that the Project posed a high risk to bat mortality but concluded that the proposed mitigation is expected to reduce mortality to acceptable levels. AEP further noted that the post-construction monitoring committed to by RES is consistent with AEP policy. AEP further found that the Project posed a low risk to breeding birds and that the mitigation measures proposed by RES address the risk adequately. A high risk to migrating birds was identified. To address this risk and if construction is scheduled during breeding season or the migratory bird nesting period, RES committed to specific mitigation measures that involved detailed surveys and searches of the construction area for nests and birds. In the case that a sensitive wildlife feature is suspected or identified, and adherence to the timing or setback restrictions is not possible, a site-specific mitigation and monitoring plan will be developed in consultation with AEP.

RES did not provide a Historical Resources Act approval for the Project. It submitted that Alberta Culture and Status of Women requires a historic resources impact assessment for one archeological site located in the northeast of the Project layout. RES indicated that aerial imagery shows the area of the archeological site is cultivated, and the associated stone features are likely destroyed. RES noted that it would conduct a field investigation to confirm the site conditions and that it would follow recommendations as agreed to with Alberta Culture and Status of Women.

Except for two receptors, cumulative sound levels of the Project would not exceed the permissible sound levels (“PSL”), where the PSL was exceeded by 0.1 and 0.2 decibels (“dBA”) beyond the 40 dBA nighttime PSL. When predicted cumulative sound levels were rounded to the nearest whole number and compared to the applicable PSL of the receptors, the Project was concluded to be compliant with PSLs at all receptors. In addition, an analysis of low frequency sound levels of the Project indicated that there would be no Project-related low frequency noise issues at any receptors.

RES explained that it did not consult with Indigenous peoples as the Project did not trigger any consultation requirements and because no Aboriginal rights would be impacted. The AUC provided the notice of the application to three Indigenous groups, and RES committed to addressing questions from these Indigenous groups.

Relocation of Turbines T4 and T8

In response to concerns raised by Alberta First Responders Radio Communications System, two turbines (T4 and T8) were relocated to prevent interference with a pre-existing communications radio link.

RES assessed potential changes to environmental, noise, and shadow flicker impacts from the relocation of the turbines. The assessment concluded that there would be minor changes to the shadow flicker impacts and noise impacts, but the Project would remain compliant with applicable rules. Following the relocation, RES consulted three landowners. No objections or concerns related to the relocation were raised.

AUC Findings

The AUC determined that the application complied with Rule 007: Applications for Power Plants, Substations, Transmission Lines, Industrial System Designation and Hydro Developments. The AUC noted that if Alberta Culture and Status of Women requires mitigation for the historical resources site such that RES would be required to amend its Project, RES may be required to file a letter of inquiry or an amendment application with the AUC, depending on the scope of the proposed changes in relation to the original application.

The AUC accepted the environmental mitigation measures committed to by RES. To ensure compliance with Rule 033: Post-approval Monitoring Requirements for Wind and Solar Power Plants, the AUC required that RES submit a post-construction monitoring survey report to AEP and the AUC within 13 months of the Project becoming operational and on or before the same date every subsequent year for which AEP requires surveys.

As noise levels at two receptors of the Project exceeded the PSL slightly, the AUC, as a condition of approval, required that RES conduct a post-construction comprehensive sound level survey, including an evaluation of low frequency noise, at those receptors. The post-construction comprehensive sound level survey must be conducted under representative conditions and in accordance with Rule 012: Noise Control. Within one year after the Project commences operations, RES shall file a report with the AUC presenting measurements and summarizing results of the post-construction comprehensive sound level survey.

The AUC accepted the conclusion submitted by RES that no receptor would experience shadow flicker above 16.5 hours per year.

The AUC found that approval of the Project is in the public interest and approved the applications.

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