There may be another alternative energy project in the area in the near future.
Aura Power Renewables is proposing a 75-megawatt solar power project north of the Drumheller Municipal Airport and is hosting a public open house next week to share information on its project.
“We are now ready to begin discussion of the project with the community. We find it helpful that Starland County is a leader, experienced with the use of solar photovoltaic technology, and that this region is one of the best locations in Canada for this type of technology,” said Aura Power senior project manager Victor Beda.
He says this project is in the permitting phase. It has completed the environmental studies as well as archeological and historical resource study on the parcel, which came back positive. The meeting is the beginning of its public consultation process.
“We have kind of jumped through a few key hurdles,” he said.
A project of this size could generate enough power to supply up to 18,750 homes annually and occupy about 400 acres. It would consist of the solar panels and racking, access roads, and electrical infrastructure.
“We will work closely with the county to adhere to their requirements, and we will ensure that this is a safe operation. We have also worked closely with ATCO Electric to confirm that the electrical infrastructure can accommodate the solar farm output. With the project located near Drumheller, we expect to find a local workforce that can assist in the construction and operation of the solar farm,” he said.
He says Aura Power is not participating in the province’s Renewable Electricity Program at this point. Rather they are pursuing private power purchase arrangements.
Beda says during construction about 50 personnel will be working on the site and building the array. After it is complete, there is very little activity on site.
“In term’s of the actual impact to the view scape, compared to a natural gas plant or a coal facility, the view scape is a lot lower. You are looking at objects that are no taller than 12 feet or so on the horizon,” he said. “The tallest thing in the entire installation would be a communication mast.”
If the project were approved, it would take about four to six months to complete.
“Alberta’s demand for electricity is growing, and combined with the ever-reducing cost of the technology we think the timing is right to develop this project,” said Beda.
“We have completed our biological studies and expect that there will be no adverse effects to wildlife. Finally, the Aura Power solar farm would contribute to the local economy as well as the Starland County tax base, bringing benefits to the region. These benefits are achieved without emitting pollution and with minimal noise.”
The open house is slated for Thursday, January 18, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Munson Community Hall.