Re­new­able en­ergy project one step closer for Oyen So­lar Part­ners

Prairie Post (East Edition) - - NEWS - By Jamie Rieger [email protected]­t.com

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.

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