By Jamie Rieger
A Calgary-based renewable energy company has chosen the County of Forty Mile for two solar energy projects which, if approved, could supply more than 6,000 homes in the region with green electrical energy.
BluEarth Renewables Inc. is a Calgary-based company, founded in 2010, that acquires and develops greenfield projects and operating renewable energy facilities, is proposing a project for the Yellow Lake area and another southwest of Burdett, and will be holding an information session on Nov. 24.
“We have two projects we are working on in the county and are still pretty early in the development stage,” said Jared Sproule, community liaison for BluEarth Renewables.
The 19-megawatt utility-scale Yellow Lake solar project would include the installation of solar photovoltaic panels, panel racking systems, internal access roads, cabling, electrical inverters, and other related equipment, all enclosed in a quarter-section of land. The exact location, approximately 19 km south of Burdett, will be determined upon completion of additional studies, equipment procurement, and engineering designs.
BluEarth expects the permitting process to run from 2015-17, with construction starting in the spring of 2017 and the commencement of operations tentatively set for sometime during the winter of 2017. The Yellow Lake solar project would tie into the Westfield 107S substation.
The Yellow Lake solar project would be able to provide electrical energy to 3,100 homes annually.
The 20-megawatt Burdett solar project, located approximately 1.5 km southwest of Burdett would involve same equipment installations as the Yellow Lake project, with exact location also yet to be determined. The Burdett project would connect to a local electrical distribution line from the Burdett 368S substation through overhead or underground cables.
As with the Yellow Lake project, the permitting process is expected to run until 2017, with construction scheduled to begin in the spring of that year. The operation of this project, however, is not expected to commence until the winter of 2018. This project would produce enough energy to power up to 3,300 homes each year.
BluEarth has had discussions with the county in regards to zoning requirements, such as zoning and setback requirements.
“They have known we were going to environmental and geo-technical studies and we have kept them up to speed on all of that,” he said.
Sproule also said the applications would have to be approved by the Alberta Utilities Commission, a process that BluEarth hopes to have complete by the end of the year.
Consultation will also be taking place in the near future, with personal discussions taking place with those within 800 meters of the project and notifications being sent to everybody within two kilometres.
BluEarth has consulted with FortisAlberta for both projects to confirm that connection to the local distributions systems would not compromise the quality of electrical service to local customers.
County of Forty Mile reeve, Bryne Lengyel said the county is hopeful about the projects, but it is too early to get too excited about it.
“It is still early in the process and we need to let this thing move forward at its own speed,” said Lengyel.
A drop-in information session for both projects will be held at the Burdett Community Hall on Tues., Nov. 24, from 5:30-8:30 p.m.