Facilities – Solar Power
In this decision, the AUC approved the application from TransCanada Energy Ltd. (“TCE”) for approval to construct and operate a 102.5-megawatt (“MW”) solar power plant, a 6.5-MW storage facility, and the Saddlebrook 303S Substation (the “Project”).
The solar facility would have approximately 420,000 bifacial solar panels and will be connected to the proposed substation by a 34.5-kilovolt (“kV”) collector system. The battery storage facility will consist of a flow battery system and will have a storage capacity of 40-megawatt hours (“MWh”), be charged from the solar power plant, and provide electric energy to the Alberta Electric System (“AIES”). The Project will be located on 135 hectares of land within the Saddlebrook Industrial Park in Aldersyde, near Okotoks.
The AUC granted standing to Sharon and Brian McCaughan, who filed a statement of intent to participate (“SIP”) and own land approximately 250 meters from the Project boundary. Their SIP indicated they were opposed to the Project because they were concerned it would decrease their property value and have negative health, visual, and wildlife impacts.
The AUC determined that the applications meet the information requirements set out in Rule 007: Application for Power Plants, Substations, Transmission Lines, Industrial System Designations, Hydro Developments and Gas Utility Pipelines. The AUC found that the Project, as applied for, abides by all applicable rules and standards.
The concerns raised by S. and B. McCaughan in their SIP and subsequent correspondence were not supported by any evidence. The AUC was consequently not able to assess the likelihood of those impacts or the extent to which S. and B. McCaughan might be affected by the Project.
The AUC noted that the solar glare assessment submitted with the application indicated that the effect of solar glare on persons traveling on the transportation routes and at the dwellings does not pose a safety hazard to those individuals. This assessment assumed that the solar panels would use an anti-reflective coating. As a condition of approval, the AUC imposed as a condition of approval that TCE uses an anti-reflective coating on the solar panels of the Project. Further, it required that TCE submits a report to the AUC detailing any complaints or concerns TCE receives or is made aware of regarding solar glare from the solar facility during its first year of operation, as well as its response to the concerns and complaints. TCE was directed to file this report no later than 13 months after the solar facility becomes operational, even if no complaints are made.
As TCE had not finalized the selection of equipment for the Project, the AUC required that TCE submit final project updates to the AUC once the equipment selection and layout of the Project are finalized. The updates must include the final information related to the solar facility and the battery storage facility, to confirm that the facilities have stayed within the specified allowances for solar and battery storage facilities.
Finally, to ensure compliance with Rule 033: Post-approval Monitoring Requirements for Wind and Solar Power Plants, the AUC imposed as a condition of approval that TCE submits an annual post-construction monitoring survey report to Alberta Environment and Parks (“AEP”) and the AUC within 13 months of the solar facility becoming operational, and on or before the same date every subsequent year for which AEP requires surveys.
Pursuant to Sections 11, 14, 15 and 19 of the Hydro and Electric Energy Act, the AUC approved the applications from TCE to construct and operate the Saddlebrook Solar Storage Project including the power plant, storage facility and substation.