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May 21, 2024 May 21, 2024

New large-scale solar plant approved by Utilities Commission

Posted on May 2, 2024 by Ryan Dahlman

Southern Alberta Newspapers

Another solar mega project has been approved with no added restrictions or requirements for six weeks after a pause on renewable energy projects last fall and winter.

Alderson Solar, a plan to build a 100-megawatt solar facility on 660-acres of land north of the TransCanada Highway near Suffield, was approved by the Alberta Utilities Commission on April 17.

It is the large-scale second facility in Cypress County approved since the moratorium lifted on Feb. 29, and third in the region, though one southwest of Brooks was denied in order to preserve native grassland.

The Alderson Project, proposed by the North American subsidiary of German firm HEP, was first proposed in 2016, the facility was officially put before regulators in late 2022.

It was in process when a provincial government moratorium on renewable power approvals was instituted last summer, but regulators have since agreed with the applicant that the land has little agricultural value and would be a net public good.

No submissions were recorded in a public feedback portion of the hearing process.

The AUC decision states that a pre-existing reclamation plan is sufficient, though a forth-coming security policy being developed must be observed.

HEP must also update mitigation plans and setbacks from several wetlands in proximity of the project footprint by August, at which time construction plans and estimates should be filed..

The land, comprising slightly more than four quarter-sections in an “L” pattern are privately owned and are situated about two kilometres north of the No. 1 Highway, about 21 kilometres east of Tilley and 30 kilometres west of Suffield.

It is the first project in Canada for HEP, which operates 30 utility scale facilities in Germany, Japan and the United States.

In March, the AUC approved the Aura Peace Butte solar project, south of Medicine Hat, and the Aira Solar project in the County of Forty Mile.

The Kinbrook Ranier Solar proposal near Brooks was denied.

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