Wind – Facilities
In this decision, the AUC approved the application from BER Hand Hills Wind GP Inc. (“BER”) and ATCO Electric Ltd. (“ATCO”) for the Hand Hills Wind Power Plant (the “Power Plant”) connection. The AUC determined that approval of the application, including the preferred route for the new transmission line, is in the public interest. The AUC denied BER’s application for an interconnection order.
BER has AUC approval to construct and operate the 145-megawatt (MW) Power Plant in Delia, Alberta. It also has the approval to construct and operate the wind project substation, designated as Highland 572S Substation.
BER requested system access from the Alberta Electric System Operator (“AESO”) to connect the Power Plant to the Alberta Interconnected Electric System. The AUC approved the needs identification document (“NID”) application filed by the AESO in response to BER’s request. In the NID application, the AESO proposed constructing a 9.6-kilometre (“km”) transmission line to connect the Highland 572S Substation to existing Transmission Line 7L128 using a T-tap configuration and to add or modify other equipment needed to ensure proper integration of the Project with the grid.
To meet the need identified by the AESO, BER and ATCO sought approval of the detailed design, specific location, routing, and equipment from the AUC.
BER Hand Hills Wind GP Inc. Facility Application
BER applied to the AUC for approval to construct and operate a 144-kilovolt transmission line designated Transmission Line 7LA128.
The AUC found that the facility application filed by BER under ss. 14, 15, 18, and 19 of the Hydro and Electric Energy Act (“HEEA”) complied with the information requirements prescribed in Rule 007: Applications for Power Plants, Substations, Transmission Lines, Industrial System Designations, Hydro Developments and Gas Utility Pipelines and was consistent with the NID approval. The AUC was further satisfied that the participant involvement program met the requirements of Rule 007.
BER set out a preferred route and an alternate route in its application. BER explained that a greater length of the preferred route would be located along developed roads than the alternate route. 3.2 km of the alternate route would be located within undeveloped road allowance. The alternate route would require more brushing and be less accessible from an operations and maintenance perspective. Stakeholders also indicated their preference for the transmission line to be sited along a developed roadway such as Township Road 170, which the preferred route would follow.
Both the preferred and alternate routes require a 1.65 km distribution line to be salvaged. The AUC accepted BER’s submission that the preferred route requires less distribution construction coordination and would incur fewer relocation costs for the distribution line than the alternate route. BER submitted that the preferred route is the environmentally preferred route. BER confirmed that it would consult with Alberta Environment and Parks before any construction-related activities commence during the restricted activity periods for sharp-tailed grouse and ferruginous hawk.
The AUC determined that the environmental impact favours the preferred route. The AUC found that implementation of the mitigation measures outlined in both the environmental evaluation and environmental protection plan would reduce the environmental effect of the proposed transmission line to an acceptable level.
The AUC approved the preferred route and approved its construction and operation under s. 17 of the Alberta Utilities Commission Act (“AUCA”).
ATCO Electric Ltd. Facility Application
ATCO applied for approval to alter existing Transmission Line 7L128 to accommodate a T-tap connection to BER’s proposed transmission line. ATCO also applied for a connection order to connect its transmission line to BER’s proposed transmission line, thereby connecting the Hand Hills Wind Power Plant to the Alberta Interconnected Electric System.
The AUC found that ATCO’s facility application complies with all applicable requirements of Rule 007 and ss. 14, 15, 18, and 19 of the HEEA. The AUC approved the application according to s. 17 of the AUCA.
The AUC approved the application to construct and operate Transmission Line 7LA128 filed under ss. 14, 15, and 19 of the HEEA by BER Hand Hills Wind GP Inc. BER’s application for a connection order was denied. As this order will be issued to ATCO, approval of BER’s application was unnecessary.
Under ss. 14, 15, 18, and 19 of the HEEA, the AUC approved ATCO’s application for permission to alter and operate Transmission Line 7L128 and connect Transmission Line 7L128 to Transmission Line 7LA128.