Wind Power – Facilities
In this decision, the AUC approved the application from Bull Trail Renewable Energy Centre GP Inc. (“Bull Trail Energy”) to construct and operate the 270-megawatt (“MW”) Bull Trail Wind Power Project (the “Project”).
Bull Trail Energy applied for approval to construct the Project, consisting of 51 turbines on 5,917 hectares of private and primarily cultivated lands near the hamlet of Irvine in Cypress County. Bull Trail Energy applied for permission to construct and operate the Project only. The AUC noted that the associated substation and interconnection application would be filed separately.
Bull Trail Energy had not finalized the turbine vendor, model, or layout but submitted the number, capacity, and size would not be changed. As required by Rule 007: Applications for Power Plants, Substations, Transmission Lines, Industrial System Designations, Hydro Developments and Gas Utility Pipelines, the selection would be finalized no later than 90 days before construction-start.
The application included a noise impact assessment, shadow flicker analysis report, and a summary of the site-specific emergency response plan. Bull Trail Energy also submitted a participant involvement program summary detailing its consultation with stakeholders, a renewable energy referral report from Alberta Environment and Parks (“AEP”), and an environmental evaluation and conceptual conservation and reclamation plan.
Bull Trail Energy expects to start construction on August 1, 2022, with an in-service-date of September 30, 2023. To allow for any unforeseen delay Bull Trail Energy applied for a completion date of December 30, 2024.
Discussion and Findings
The AUC found that the application provides all information required by Rule 007. It noted that the participant involvement program satisfies the requirements of Rule 007 and the objectives of consultation. The AUC found that the noise impact assessment indicated conformance with Rule 012: Noise Control. Regarding Receptor R20, the AUC noted that the predicted nighttime cumulative sound level is 40.3 dBA, which exceeds the nighttime permissible sound level (“PSL”) of 40 dBA. Pursuant to Section 2.7(6) of Rule 012, the applicant can round predicted cumulative sound levels to the nearest whole number before comparing predicted cumulative levels to the applicable PSLs, which, in this case, results in the sound level abiding by Rule 012.
Since the predicted sound levels slightly exceed the PSL at four receptors, the AUC imposed as a condition of approval that Bull Trail Energy complete a post-construction comprehensive sound level survey to verify compliance with Rule 012 once the Project comes into operation.
AEP found that the Project will pose a moderate risk to wildlife and wildlife habitat considering the location and commitments to mitigate disturbances and mitigate and monitor wildlife impacts. AEP most notably indicated that the Project poses a high risk for bird and bat mortality. The AUC found that further mitigation measures committed to by Bull Trail Energy following consultation with AEP address all environmental information requirements of Rule 007. The AUC was satisfied that diligent implementation of mitigation measures would lead to a reduction of the risks to an acceptable level. To ensure continued compliance and mitigation, the AUC imposed as a condition of approval that Bull Trail Energy submitted to AEP and the AUC annual post-construction monitoring survey reports pursuant to Rule 033: Post-Approval Monitoring Requirements for Wind and Solar Power Plants.
As a final condition of approval, Bull Trail Energy is required to file a final project update with the AUC once equipment selection is finalized to confirm that the Project stays within the final project update specified allowances for wind power plants. Bull Trail Energy was directed to file the final project update at least 90 days prior to the start of construction.
Pursuant to Section 11 of the Hydro and Electric Energy Act, the AUC approved the application to construct and operate the Project.