Alberta Utilities Commission presents changes to Kneehill County | DrumhellerMail
Last updateTue, 21 May 2024 12am

Alberta Utilities Commission presents changes to Kneehill County

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The Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) was asked by Kneehill County’s Administration to attend the Tuesday, April 13, Committee of the Whole Meeting and give a presentation to council members to share knowledge about the processes of renewable energy projects, their environmental impacts or setbacks, and what residents can do if they are against the projects.
“Our mandate is to make decisions on utility applications that are in the public interest. Public interest can be viewed differently between applications. In some instances, environment, social or economic, each of them have their own unique issues or considerations that the commission (AUC) weighs and reviews differently,” states Richard Golberger on behalf of the AUC at the meeting.
The AUC conducts regulatory reviews in a fair process and ensures reliable service at reasonable rates. They regulate investor and municipality owned utility providers and ensure energy facilities are built, operated and decommissioned in an environmentally safe manner. They also provide information about the electricity and gas markets in Alberta.
In August, 2023, the AUC was inquired by the government to look into a number of issues and gather information about how renewable energy projects affect land use and the impacts they have on the electrical grid.
Some changes that have occurred are that municipalities now have the right to participate in the hearings, developers are now responsible for reclamation costs to the government or landowners and renewable energy projects are no longer permitted to be constructed on Class 1 or Class 2 Lands unless it is proven that crops and livestock can coexist with the developments.
One main concern the Council had focused on was shadow flickering, a phenomenon where the sun shines through the moving blades of wind turbines, creating a shadow that moves. It is a nuisance to nearby communities and homeowners because the shadows flash across buildings and homes.
“What are the ongoing projects at the AUC that study the long term effects of these renewable projects on the public, animal, human, soil and water?” inquired Division 5 Councillor Laura Cunningham. “One of the main concerns I have had from the people that live in my division, where there is a huge project coming up, is the shadow flickering.”
“We have had an unbelievable amount of shadow flicker information put before us over the course of multiple years,” replied Kim McNab, who presented alongside Goldberger on behalf of the AUC. “ Generally speaking, I am not aware of any decisions that current science suggests are the impacts around shadow flickering. I think a lot of it depends on the characterizations of the specific project.”
What the AUC suggests the public does if they have concerns or objections around renewable energy projects happening in their communities is to join their process.
“We would encourage them to join our process once an application is filed,” replied McNab. “ Even before that, the proponent of that project should be consulting with the people. Making their concerns known right up front is very helpful,” says McNab.

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