Facilities – Solar
In this decision, the AUC approved the applications from ATCO Power (2010) Ltd. (“ATCO”) to construct and operate the 37-megawatt (“MW”) Deerfoot Solar Power Plant (the “Power Plant”) and to connect the Power Plant to the ENMAX Power Corporation (“ENMAX”) electric distribution system (the “Project”).
The Power Plant will consist of rack-mounted solar photovoltaic modules and 12 inverter/transformer stations on 244 acres of private, freehold land near 114 AVE and 52 St. in the South East of Calgary.
The applications submitted by ATCO included a participant involvement program, noise impact assessment, environmental assessment and conservation and reclamation plan and an exemption from the requirement to provide an environmental evaluation report issued by Alberta Environment and Parks. The application also included an evaluation of ATCO’s risk management plan for the phosphogypsum stacks in the Project footprint, a solar glare assessment, Historical Resource Act approval and a site-specific emergency response plan. ATCO also submitted confirmation that ENMAX is prepared to allow the interconnection.
Construction is expected to start by March 2022. ATCO expects the Project to be in service by December 3, 2022, and applied for a construction completion date of June 3, 2023, to provide a buffer for procurement delays.
The AUC was satisfied that the information requirements set out in Rule 007: Applications for Power Plants, Substations, Transmission Lines, Industrial System Designations, Hydro Developments and Gas Utility Pipelines had been met.
The Project will be located on capped phosphogypsum stacks in an area zoned for industrial development with limited development potential. ATCO submitted that it would not disturb the integrity of the stacks and that ATCO would continue to meet the obligations associated with the existing Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act.
Alberta Environment and Parks did not prepare a renewable energy referral report for this Project because of its location within Calgary city limits and because the Wildlife Directive for Alberta Solar Energy Projects does not apply to projects in urban areas. The AUC accepted that the report is not required and agreed with the submission that the site avoids interference with known wildlife habitats.
The solar glare assessment predicted that six dwellings, Deerfoot Trail, five local roads and a heliport would experience varying amounts of glare. However, the solar glare assessment concluded that the Project is not likely to create hazardous glare conditions for nearby dwellings, transportation routes, or the heliport.
The AUC found that the predictions of the solar glare assessment were reasonable. As this assessment assumed that the panels of the Project would use an anti-reflective coating, the AUC imposed the application of this coating as a condition for approval of the Project.
Further, while no objections to the Project were raised by the heliport’s owner, the AUC imposed a condition of approval, that ATCO files a report with the AUC detailing any complaints or concerns it receives or is made aware of regarding solar glare from the Project during its first year of operation, as well as its response to the complaints or concerns. This report is required to be filed no later than 13 months after the Project becomes operational.
As the selection of equipment had not been finalized, the AUC also imposed as a condition of approval that once ATCO had finalized the selection of equipment, ATCO must file a final Project update to the AUC to confirm that the Project has stayed within the final Project update specified allowances for solar power plants. The final Project update must be filed at least 90 days prior to the start of construction.
The AUC determined that approval of the applications is in the public interest, as required by Section 17 of the Alberta Utilities Commission Act.
Pursuant to Section 11 of the Hydro and Electric Energy Act, the AUC approved the application for construction and operation of the Power Plant. The application to connect the Power Plant to the ENMAX distribution system was approved pursuant to Section 18 of the Hydro and Electric Energy Act.