Wind – Facilities
In this decision, the AUC approved the applications from Jenner Wind LP, through its two subsidiaries, Jenner 2 Limited Partnership and Jenner 3 Limited Partnership (“Jenner”), to construct and operate the Jenner Wind Power Project 2 (the “Jenner 2 Plant”) and Jenner Wind Power Project 3 (the “Jenner 3 Plant”) power plants, and to connect the power plants to the Alberta Interconnected Electric System (the “Projects”).
Applications and Proceeding Processing History
On August 8, 2017, Jenner, applied to construct and operate a 180-megawatt (“MW”) wind power plant, designated as the Jenner Wind Power Plant Expansion. The proceeding was placed in abeyance in January 2018 to allow the applicant to consult with stakeholders who had submitted statements of intent to participate. Following consultation, in March 2020, an amendment to the Jenner Wind Power Plant Expansion project application was filed that would create two discrete projects: the Jenner 2 Project, consisting of 17 turbines with a total capability of 71.4 MW, and the Jenner 3 Project, composed of 26 turbines for a capability of 109.2 MW.
In June of 2020, the AUC ruled that the Projects, as applied for, were not in the public interest because the Projects posed substantial, unacceptable environmental risks that were not adequately mitigated by the proposed mitigation and monitoring plans. The AUC put the applications in abeyance to allow Jenner an opportunity to explore ways to avoid or further reduce the potential and residual effects of the projects on wildlife and wildlife habitat.
The Amended Applications
Jenner amended the applications, proposing fewer turbines with a higher individual capability for the same total capability. The Projects will now use turbines with a hub height of 114 meters and a rotor diameter of 160 meters. The nameplate capacity of each turbine is 5.56 MW, but the individual output of each turbine would be controlled via a Wind Farm Management System.
The amended applications included the reports and assessments required for wind power project applications by Rule 007: Applications for Power Plants, Substations, Transmission Lines, Industrial System Designations, Hydro Developments and Gas Utility Pipelines (“Rule 007”).
The renewable energy referral reports from Alberta Environment and Parks (“AEP”) for the Projects submitted together with the March 2020 amendments originally concluded that the Projects pose an overall high risk to wildlife and wildlife habitat. Issues identified by AEP included the Projects’ location on native grassland and the high occurrence of species at risk, including numerous sensitive grassland-dependent species and the proposed installation of overhead collector lines.
Jenner updated the Projects to reduce the potential effects on wildlife and wildlife habitat and submitted the Projects’ update reports to AEP for reassessment. On March 8, 2021, AEP issued separate referral report amendment letters for the Projects and determined that the revised layout generally met the intent of AEP policy and the Wildlife Directive for Alberta Wind Projects.
The amendment included the removal of turbines that would have been sited on native grasslands. Further, AEP noted that the layout had been changed to reduce the effect on native grassland. While the Projects would align with the directive, the risk of avian mortality would remain high because of the abundance of breeding birds and species at risk in the Projects.
AEP determined that there also remained a risk to amphibian species at risk and ground-nesting raptor species affected by the Projects. However, AEP determined that the changes to the layout of the Projects decreased the risk to wildlife and wildlife habitat. AEP’s Renewable Energy Referral Report concluded that the updated Projects posed a moderate risk to wildlife and wildlife habitat.
The Historical Resources Act approval issued to Jenner requires three stone features of archeological importance in the Jenner 3 Project area to be flagged or fenced to ensure avoidance. A fourth requires no further action as long as the site is avoided. A historic structure was also noted that must be avoided during all development activities.
The AUC considered the applications under sections 11, 14, 15, 18 and 19 of the Hydro and Electric Energy Act. The AUC determined that the applications met the information requirements of Rule 007.
Regarding the remaining risk to wildlife and wildlife habitat determined by AEP, the AUC found that implementing mitigation measures and imposing conditions to minimize residual effects on native grassland and the potential for direct impacts to wildlife and wildlife habitat is of high importance in this instance. As a condition of approval for both Projects, the AUC required that:
(a) The approval holder shall not perform any construction activities within areas of tame and native grassland during the restricted activity period for breeding birds of April 1 to July 15 as described in the Wildlife Directive for Alberta Wind Energy Projects.
The AUC was satisfied that the remaining risk will be adequately mitigated through the mitigation measures proposed and committed to by Jenner.
As required by Rule 033: Post-approval Monitoring Requirements for Wind and Solar Power Plants, the AUC also issued as a condition of approval that:
(b) The approval holder shall submit a post-construction monitoring survey report to AEP and the AUC within 13 months of the Jenner 2 [Jenner 3] wind project becoming operational, and on or before the same date every subsequent year for which AEP requires surveys, pursuant to Subsection 3(3) of Rule 033: Post-approval Monitoring Requirements for Wind and Solar Power Plants.
Pursuant to Sections 11 and 18 of the Hydro and Electric Energy Act, the AUC approved the applications.