Renewable energy project one step closer for Oyen Solar Partners
Daryl Peers has wanted to incorporate alternative energy into his farming operation near Oyen for quite some time, and is now one step closer to having a small solar power plant, one that will benefit not only him and his family, but the community of Oyen, as well.
With plans to develop a small solar facility, he and his brother Tim each purchased a half section of cultivated, but low-yielding land close to Oyen and started putting their plans in motion.
“I’m not a firm believer in wind energy. I don’t like seeing it and don’t like hearing the noise,” said Peers.
“The land is cultivated, but it’s rough. It’s not very good land,” said Peers of the property that sits approximately 2.5 km east of Oyen and 1.5 km north of Highway 41 and is located near a sub-station.
Peers met with representatives from the Town of Oyen for the possibility of collaboration on the project and also started talking to those with knowledge in the solar energy business and met with representatives from FrontLine Energy Consulting, based in Calgary.
“I initiated the discussions with them and they came out to see the property,” said Peers.
After a couple of visits, FrontLine knew they had the ideal location for a small project.
“They have the availability of solar resource, the existing land is lowyielding, there are only a few residences within 2,000 meters of the projects, and there are power lines so no new lines are needed and we can connect to the existing distribution line,” said Tony Mauro, principal and senior advisor with FrontLine Energy Consulting. “These are the things we looked at and found Oyen would be an excellent location for this.”
As a result, Oyen Solar Partners was formed in 2018. Through the Town of Oyen, they applied for a grant through the Alberta Community Generation program which will see a portion of the revenues generated back to the Town of Oyen for an estimated 20 years.
“The Community Generation program is designed for projects like this,” said Mauro.
All environmental studies, which took about a year-and-a-half, have been completed and submitted to Alberta Environment and Parks.
The studies include wildlife, wetland, and wildlife habitat mapping. The studies included detailed studies for migratory birds, breeding birds, raptors, grouse, and burrowing owls and also include construction and post-construction monitoring and mitigation plan.
The results of the environmental studies showed an active red-tail hawk nest and an active sharp-tail grouse lek required them to establish setbacks from these sites. Several wetlands and a region of native pasture on the road allowance south of an existing well site were also identified and required further setbacks.
“The regulations by Alberta Environment and Parks are pretty vigorous and the studies took about a year to complete. We used that information to fine tune where the project would go,” said Mauro.
All noise impact assessments have also been completed and in compliance with Alberta Utilities Commission’s noise control regulations.
While once complete, 54,000 solar panels would cover much of section, the project itself is small in nature. The total capacity would amount to 15 MW (megawatts) of power, or enough to power approximately 4,000 households. Each panel would have an electrical capacity of 360 watts dc.
The construction, which is expected to start this fall and last six to eight months, will include surveying, lowimpact access roads, installation of piling to support the solar array and foundations to support the inverters, installation of racking, panels, and inverters, wiring, and fencing, landscaping, and re-vegetation.
The estimated in-service date for phase 1 is June, 2020, with no tentative date set for Phase 2.
The facility will have a life span of approximately 25 years and at the end of its life, the project will be reclaimed to its current standards.