Aura Power pursues Fox Coulee solar project
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.