Facilities – Site Selection
The City of Medicine Hat (“Medicine Hat”) applied for approval to construct and operate the new MHS-11 substation, alter the existing Transmission Line MH-20L, and redesignate a portion of existing Transmission Line MH-20L as MH-21L (the “Project”) in the southwest area of Medicine Hat. The application included preferred and alternate sites for the MHS-11 substation.
The AUC denied the applications, determining that the applications were not in the public interest as the site selection process was deficient.
Cypress County, the City View Group, and the Hatview Dairy Desert Blume Group were granted standing and participation rights in the proceeding. Cypress County, an adjacent municipality, opposed both locations proposed for the substation. The City View Group, consisting of residents and landowners located near the preferred site, opposed the preferred site. The Hatview Dairy Desert Blume Group, consisting of residents, landowners, and a business located near the alternate site, opposed the alternate site.
The main objective of a siting methodology is to identify locations that have the lowest impacts. The AUC stated that the process should be designed to allow for ongoing location adjustments as new information becomes available through the siting process and the participant involvement program. Site selection principles include: agricultural, residential and visual impacts; electrical and technical considerations; special constraints; environmental impacts; and cost. All three intervener groups submitted that the city’s site selection methodology was deficient and did not result in the lowest impact sites being selected.
The AUC determined that Medicine Hat’s site selection method was disregarded and inconsistently applied to the two proposed sites. Based on the information provided by Medicine Hat concerning its siting criteria and methodology, the AUC also found it unclear whether the preferred site represented the location with the lowest overall impact.
The AUC was not satisfied that the site selection methodology was sufficiently robust or applied in a manner that provides the AUC with confidence that the preferred and alternate sites represent the lowest overall impact sites. Rather, the AUC determined that Medicine Hat proposed sites located close to residential areas that would require the taking of land from landowners unwilling to host the Project.
Further, the AUC determined that the preliminary site selection process did not meet the information requirements outlined in Rule 007: Applications for Power Plants, Substations, Transmission Lines, Industrial System Designations, Hydro Developments and Gas Utility Pipelines. Medicine Hat did not give sufficient consideration to residential or visual impacts, including proximity to residential communities, until after the preferred and alternate sites were selected and other sites were removed from consideration. The AUC also determined that Medicine Hat did not consistently apply siting criteria when evaluating each site.
Based on the information provided, the AUC determined that some of the sites removed from consideration appeared to have a lower overall impact.
The AUC further determined that, although there was a need for the substation, the need was not immediate. Accordingly, denying the applications would not jeopardize the service provided to residents by Medicine Hat.