Aura Power pur­sues Fox Coulee so­lar project

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

Aura Power Re­new­ables is con­tin­u­ing to pur­sue its ap­pli­ca­tion to the Al­berta Util­i­ties Com­mis­sion (AUC) for the cre­ation of the Fox Coulee So­lar Farm.

The Mail re­ported in Jan­uary of this year the com­pany is propos­ing a 75-megawatt so­lar power project north of the Drumheller Mu­nic­i­pal Air­port. The project could gen­er­ate enough to sup­ply power to 18,750 homes an­nu­ally. Aura held an open house in Jan­uary and project man­ager Vic­tor Beda said they re­ceived feed­back from res­i­dents.

“We did hear some con­cerns from ad­ja­cent landown­ers,” said Beda, “They were con­cerned about the prox­im­ity of the pan­els. Since then we have in­vested a lot in our de­sign and un­der­took con­sid­er­able ex­pense to com­pletely re­design the ar­ray at the re­quest of landown­ers. We have ac­tu­ally moved the pan­els to a very healthy and re­spectable po­si­tion where it is quite far away from landowner lo­ca­tions.”

He adds they have also un- der­taken a third-party study to look into the con­cerns of glare for users of the mu­nic­i­pal air­port.

He ex­plains the com­pany has their ap­pli­ca­tion to the AUC in.

“What that rep­re­sents is a num­ber of re­quired stud­ies the Al­berta Gov­ern­ment re­quires us to com­plete. These are now com­plete and we have put forth a pack­age in front of the Al­berta Util­ity Com­mis­sion to re­view,” he said. “At the same time, we have been

in dis­cus­sion with Star­land County and we are try­ing to un­der­stand each other’s po­si­tions and make sure we are fol­low­ing all the by­laws that Star­land has in place.”

"Our hopes are to get our Al­berta Util­i­ties Com­mis­sion re­view com­plete first… be­fore we ap­proach Star­land County and start tak­ing up their valu­able time and re­sources by get­ting the mu­nic­i­pal ap­provals com­pleted as well.”

He says the AUC has its own pub­lic en­gage­ment mech­a­nism as the ap­pli­ca­tion pro­gresses. In this week’s edi­tion of The Mail there is a no­tice on the ap­pli­ca­tion. A hear­ing is sched­uled for Tues­day, March 5, 2019, at the Bad­lands Com­mu­nity Fa­cil­ity.

Prior to this Hear­ing, the AUC is hold­ing a Par­tic­i­pant In­for­ma­tion Ses­sion on Thurs­day, De­cem­ber 6 at the Canalta Juras­sic Ho­tel. This is to out­line how those wish­ing to par­tic­i­pate in the pro­ceed­ings can get in­volved, and there may even be fund­ing avail­able to sup­port their po­si­tion. Writ­ten ev­i­dence is due on Jan­uary 30.

Only those who have filled par­tic­i­pa­tion sub­mis­sions and have been granted stand­ing may be el­i­gi­ble for fund­ing and to fully par­tic­i­pate in the hear­ing. “The Al­berta Util­i­ties Com­mis­sion is fo­cused on what is right for Al­ber­tans. They will make sure we’ve fol­lowed ev­ery rule in the rule­book,” said Beda.

He hopes the project will be un­der­way by the end of 2019 or early 2020. And have a pos­i­tive spinoff for the lo­cal econ­omy.

“We are go­ing to need lo­cal trades­peo­ple that are es­tab­lished and liv­ing in the area. We need skills not only for con­struc­tion but op­er­a­tions and main­te­nance as well,” said Beda.

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