Facilities – Solar Power
In this decision, the AUC approved the applications from Horus Solar Alberta Ltd. (“Horus”) to construct and operate the 350-megawatt (“MW”) Kirkcaldy solar power plant (the “Power Plant”) and the Kirkcaldy 1009S Substation (the “Project”). The Project will have a total footprint of 206 hectares and be located on privately owned land near Vulcan, Alberta.
Application and Project Details
The Power Plant will consist of approximately 638,610 solar photovoltaic modules, a fixed-tilt and ground-mounted racking system, 140 inverters of 3.15-megavolt ampere capacity, a 34.5-kilovolt (“kV”) underground collector system, fence, and access roads. The Power Plant will deliver the electricity to the Alberta Interconnected Electric System.
At the time of this decision, Horus was working with the Alberta Electric System Operator to optimize the interconnection of the Project. The interconnection of the Project would be subject to future applications.
AUC Findings and Decision
The AUC determined that the application met the information requirements set out in Rule 007: Applications for Power Plants, Substations, Transmission Lines, Industrial System Designations and Hydro Developments. The AUC also found that the participant involvement program submitted with the application met the requirements of Rule 007.
The renewable energy referral report (“referral report”) obtained from Alberta Environment and Parks (“AEP”) indicated that the Project would be located partially on tame grassland functioning as a habitat for grassland breeding birds, including species at risk. Despite commitments made by Horus, AEP noted that there would be an increased risk to breeding birds during construction. Horus submitted that if it is required to conduct construction activities in the restricted activity period between April 15 and August 15, it will conduct nest sweeps within 100 meters of tame grassland, and if nests or nesting behaviour are detected, a species-specific setback (minimum 100 meters) will be applied until the young fledge and the nest has been confirmed inactive by an experienced wildlife biologist.
The AUC acknowledged that the Project could negatively impact breeding birds on tame grasslands but found that the commitments made by Horus to decrease the mortality risk was reasonable in the circumstances.
In accordance with Rule 033: Post-approval Monitoring Requirements for Wind and Solar Power Plants, the AUC imposed as a condition that Horus submit to AEP and the AUC annual post-construction monitoring survey reports.
As the predictions of the solar glare assessment submitted by Horus assumed that anti-reflective coating would be used on the solar panels, the AUC imposed the use of such reflective coating as a condition of approval. Further, Horus is required to file a report with the AUC detailing complaints, concerns, and how Horus addressed these during the first year of operation.
At the time of this decision, Horus had not finalized the selection of equipment and the layout of the Project. The AUC required that, at least 90 days prior to beginning construction, Horus files a final Project update confirming the selection of equipment and layout and that the Project has stayed within the allowances for solar power plants.
Subject to the conditions imposed by the AUC and in accordance with Section 17 of the Alberta Utilities Commission Act, the AUC determined that approval of the project is in the public interest having regard to the social, economic, and other effects of the project, including its effect on the environment.