Solar Power – Facilities
Acestes Power ULC applied to the AUC for permission to construct and operate the 19.8-megawatt Duchess Solar Power Plant Project (the “Project”), located on 320 acres of private, cultivated land near the town of Duchess. The Project would consist of approximately 65,492 bifacial solar photovoltaic modules, inverter/transformer stations, underground collector lines, and an internal road network. The Project will be connected to the FortisAlberta Inc. electric distribution system.
The AUC approved the application from Acestes to construct and operate the Project.
Alberta Utilities Commission Act, SA 2007, c A-37.2.
Hydro and Electric Energy Act, RSA 2000, c H-16.
AUC Rule 033: Post-approval Monitoring Requirements for Wind and Solar Power Plants.
AEP Sensitive Species Inventory Guidelines (2013).
The AUC determined that the applications and the participant involvement program met the information requirements in Rule 007: Applications for Power Plants, Substations, Transmission Lines, Industrial System Designations, Hydro Developments and Gas Utility Pipelines.
Alberta Environment and Parks Fish and Wildlife Stewardship (“AEP”) determined that the risk to wetlands and wetland wildlife was high. The risk to wildlife from project fencing and the overall risk to birds was moderate.
To mitigate the Project’s environmental impacts, Acestes committed to several mitigating measures. Acestes committed to repeating amphibian field surveys in June 2023 and consulting with AEP if additional mitigation is required. Regarding the risk to wildlife, the AUC imposed, as a condition of approval, that Acestes take steps to avoid work within 100 meters of Class III+ wetlands during the amphibian breeding and dispersal period and that a qualified wildlife biologist monitor any work completed within the setback that cannot be completed outside of that period.
AEP was concerned that the proposed fenceline around a Class IV semi-permanent wetland would create a pocket that may increase the risk of animal entrapment. The AUC encouraged Acestes to modify the fence alignment within the preferred route to the south of the wetland to optimize the use of straight lines and square corners.