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City of Grand Prairie Eastlink Centre Power Plant, AUC Decision 27276-D02-2022

Link to Decision Summarized

Facilities – Noise

Application

The City of Grande Prairie (“Grand Prairie”) applied to the AUC for permission to operate the existing 666-kilowatt Eastlink Centre Power Plant (the “Power Plant”) located at the Eastlink Centre recreational complex within the city of Grande Prairie.

Decision

The AUC approved the application to operate the Power Plant. The approval is conditional upon Grand Prairie implementing additional noise mitigation at the Power Plant to reduce sound levels at the most impacted receptor by a minimum of five decibels (“dBA”) and eliminate the high-pitched noise from the Power Plant.

Relevant Legislation

Electric Utilities Act, SA 2003, c E-5.1 – s. 95.

Hydro and Electric Energy Act, RSA 2000, c H-16 – s. 18.

AUC Rule 007: Applications for Power Plants, Substations, Transmission Lines, Industrial System Designations, Hydro Developments and Gas Utility Pipelines

AUC Rule 012: Noise Control

Pertinent Issues

Initially, the Power Plant was constructed and operated based on Grand Prairie’s understanding that it was exempt from the requirement to apply for AUC approval to construct and operate the Power Plant, based on the provisions of s. 18.1 of the Hydro and Electric Energy Regulation. One criterion for exemption is compliance with AUC Rule 012: Noise Control (“Rule 012”). However, a sound study conducted after several noise complaints were received by Grand Prairie confirmed that the Power Plant exceeded permissible nighttime sound levels (“PSLs”) set out in Rule 012.

Grand Prairie hired Acoustical Consultants Inc. (“ACI”) to conduct several comprehensive sound level surveys and implemented mitigation measures to bring the noise levels at the affected noise receptors to levels that comply with Rule 012.

Subs. 1.4(3) of Rule 012 provides the AUC with the discretion to “dispense with, vary, or supplement all or any part of these rules if it is satisfied that the circumstances require it.” The Power Plant uses equipment that creates a constant high-pitched sound, increases area noise levels, and is located in a manner that accentuates the sound radiation toward residences that are located in very close proximity to the Power Plant. The AUC therefore determined that this case warranted the exercise of its discretion under Rule 012.

The AUC determined that implementing additional sound mitigation to achieve a reduction of at least five dBA at the most affected receptor is necessary to uphold the public interest in these circumstances. Grand Prairie was directed to submit proposed mitigation measures, a timeline for implementation, and to complete a post-mitigation sound survey to confirm that the noise mitigation measures reduce the noise level by at least five dBA.

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