Electricity – Facilities
Buffalo Plains Wind Farm Inc. (“BPW”) and AltaLink Management Ltd. (“AML”) filed facility applications for the Buffalo Plains Wind Farm Connection Project (the “Project”).
BPW has the approval to construct and operate the 514.6-MW Buffalo Plains Wind Farm and the Amber 611S Substation in the Lomond area. BPW applied to the AUC for approval to construct and operate a 240-kilovolt (“kV)” transmission line, designated Transmission Line 1097L, from its Amber 611S Substation to AML’s Milo 356S Substation. BPW will jointly operate the proposed transmission line with AML for approximately six months following construction completion. Afterward, BPW would transfer the ownership and operation of the proposed line to AML.
Under ss. 14, 15, and 19 of the Hydro and Electric Energy Act (“HEEA”), the AUC approved the application from BPW to construct and operate Transmission Line 1097L.
Under ss. 14, 15, 18, 19, and 21 of the HEEA, the AUC approved the applications from AML to alter the Milo 356S Substation and Transmission Line 1036L, and connect the Milo 356S Substation to BPW’s Transmission Line 1067L.
Alberta Utilities Commission Act, SA 2007, c A-37.2 – s 17.
AUC Rule 001: Rules of Practice.
Hydro and Electric Energy Act, RSA 2000, c H-16 – ss 14, 15, 18, 19, and 21.
Transmission Regulation, Alta Reg 86/2007 – s 24.3.
In its application, BPW proposed two route options, one of which was preferred. The AUC noted that following existing linear disturbances such as transmission lines, roads, and highways is a practical approach to minimizing the impacts of a proposed transmission line. The AUC found that the preferred route would have a lower environmental impact.
AUC noted that BPW did not conduct the sharp-tailed grouse surveys as required by the Sensitive Species Inventory Guidelines, which specify a maximum plot distance of 1,000 meters. BPW used a maximum plot distance of 2,000 meters. The AUC also noted that BPW did not fully assess impacts on wetlands and amphibians before submitting the application.
To account for BPW’s commitments to conduct the required evaluations, the AUC imposed, as a condition of approval, that:
(a) BPW must complete sharp-tailed grouse surveys in 2023 to identify potentially undetected leks, assess disturbance to known leks, and assess areas where raptor perch deterrents may reduce predation pressure near leks.
(b) BPW engage a Qualified Wetland Science Practitioner to conduct a wetland survey for the entire length of the preferred route and submit a wetland survey report to the AUC before September 30, 2022.
The AUC was satisfied that BPW would adequately mitigate the Project’s potential effects on wildlife and wildlife habitats with the diligent implementation of the mitigation measures and the conditions above.
The AUC found that the facility application filed by BPW under s. 14 and 15 of the HEEA complies with the information requirements prescribed in Rule 007: Applications for Power Plants, Substations, Transmission Lines, Industrial System Designations, Hydro Developments and Gas Utility Pipelines (“Rule 007”) and is consistent with need and the requirements identified in the AESO’s functional specification. The proposed transmission line is in the public interest, as required by s. 17 of the Alberta Utilities Commission Act.
AML applied for permission to modify the Milo 356S Substation by adding a 240-kV circuit breaker to accommodate Transmission Line 1097L. AML also applied for permission to salvage a single Transmission Line 1036L structure just outside the substation and replace it with a single structure located within the substation fenceline to support Transmission Line 1036L and Transmission Line 1097L physically. Further, AML applied for a connection order to connect the Milo 356S Substation to BPW’s Transmission Line 1097L.
The AUC found that the facility applications filed by AML under ss. 14, 15, 18, 19, and 21 of the HEEA comply with the information requirements prescribed in Rule 007, and the proposed development is consistent with NID Approval 27129-D01-2022 and the requirements of the AESO’s functional specification.