So­lar farm pro­posed north of air­port

The Drumheller Mail - - FRONT PAGE - Pa­trick Ko­lafa The Drumheller Mail

There may be an­other al­ter­na­tive en­ergy project in the area in the near fu­ture.

Aura Power Re­new­ables is propos­ing a 75-megawatt so­lar power project north of the Drumheller Mu­nic­i­pal Air­port and is host­ing a pub­lic open house next week to share in­for­ma­tion on its project.

“We are now ready to be­gin dis­cus­sion of the project with the com­mu­nity. We find it help­ful that Star­land County is a leader, ex­pe­ri­enced with the use of so­lar pho­to­voltaic tech­nol­ogy, and that this re­gion is one of the best lo­ca­tions in Canada for this type of tech­nol­ogy,” said Aura Power se­nior project man­ager Vic­tor Beda.

He says this project is in the per­mit­ting phase. It has com­pleted the en­vi­ron­men­tal stud­ies as well as arche­o­log­i­cal and his­tor­i­cal re­source study on the par­cel, which came back pos­i­tive. The meet­ing is the be­gin­ning of its pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion process.

“We have kind of jumped through a few key hur­dles,” he said.

A project of this size could gen­er­ate enough power to sup­ply up to 18,750 homes an­nu­ally and oc­cupy about 400 acres. It would con­sist of the so­lar pan­els and rack­ing, ac­cess roads, and elec­tri­cal in­fra­struc­ture.

“We will work closely with the county to ad­here to their re­quire­ments, and we will en­sure that this is a safe op­er­a­tion. We have also worked closely with ATCO Elec­tric to con­firm that the elec­tri­cal in­fra­struc­ture can ac­com­mo­date the so­lar farm out­put. With the project lo­cated near Drumheller, we ex­pect to find a lo­cal work­force that can as-

Con­tin­ued on Page 3 See Aura Power

sist in the con­struc­tion and op­er­a­tion of the so­lar farm,” he said.

He says Aura Power is not par­tic­i­pat­ing in the prov­ince’s Re­new­able Elec­tric­ity Pro­gram at this point. Rather they are pur­su­ing pri­vate power pur­chase ar­range­ments.

Beda says dur­ing con­struc­tion about 50 per­son­nel will be work­ing on the site and build­ing the ar­ray. Af­ter it is com- plete, there is very lit­tle ac­tiv­ity on site.

“In term’s of the ac­tual im­pact to the view scape, com­pared to a nat­u­ral gas plant or a coal fa­cil­ity, the view scape is a lot lower. You are look­ing at ob­jects that are no taller than 12 feet or so on the hori­zon,” he said. “The tallest thing in the en­tire in­stal­la­tion would be a com­mu­ni­ca­tion mast.”

If the project were ap­proved, it would take about four to six months to com­plete.

“Al­berta’s de­mand for elec­tric­ity is grow­ing, and com­bined with the ever-re­duc­ing cost of the tech­nol­ogy we think the tim­ing is right to de­velop this project,” said Beda.

“We have com­pleted our bi­o­log­i­cal stud­ies and ex­pect that there will be no ad­verse ef­fects to wildlife. Fi­nally, the Aura Power so­lar farm would con­trib­ute to the lo­cal econ­omy as well as the Star­land County tax base, bring­ing ben­e­fits to the re­gion. Th­ese ben­e­fits are achieved with­out emit­ting pol­lu­tion and with min­i­mal noise.”

The open house is slated for Thurs­day, Jan­uary 18, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Mun­son Com­mu­nity Hall.

Aura Power is propos­ing a 75 megawatt so­lar farm to be lo­cated on a par­cel of land north of the Drumheller Mu­nic­i­pal Air­port. The compa- ny is host­ing an Open House on Thurs­day, Jan­uary 18 a the Mun­son Hall to dis­cuss the project.

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