Thursday, September 7, 2017

MD of Pincher Creek approves McLachlin Wind Farm rezoning

AltaLink graphic illustrating location of McLaughlin Wind Farm and proposed/existing connections (Dec. 2015)

Chris Davis - At their August 22 meeting council for the MD of Pincher Creek passed a land use bylaw amendment requested by Renewable Energy Services Ltd. "to allow for the expansion of the McLaughlin Wind Farm site to better accommodate turbine placement." The wind farm site is east of the Town of Pincher Creek in the Municipal District of Pincher Creek. Councillor Quentin Stevick removed himself from voting on the matter as he was not in attendance for the public hearing on the matter held Tuesday, July 11, 2017. No members of the public spoke to the issue and there were no written submissions received at the public hearing.
According to a report by Director of Development and Community Services Roland Milligan "This change of land use is necessary to allow for Category 3 Wind Energy Conversion System use."

According to documents included in an earlier similar bylaw, a Category 3 Wind Energy Conversion System (WECS) is defined as ether a single WECS with a total height of 35 metres or greater, or where the applicant proposes a wind farm with more than one WECS of any height per titled parcel.

Also from Milligan's report: "Due to information gathered from ongoing environmental studies and a desire to use new and better technology, the project has been reconfigured to use less turbines but will require additional project lands."  Now that the rezoning has been approved a new development permit application will be required for the project.

Renewable Energy Services Ltd. (RESL) is a Canadian Controlled Private Corporation (CCPC) registered in the Province of Nova Scotia since 2000.  According to their website "RESL is now in late stage development of it’s McLauglin Wind Farm located in the Municipality District of Pincher Creek, Alberta. The project has been in RESL’s portfolio of development assets since 2008.  The project has interconnection to the grid for a capacity of 75MW and is developing the site in two phases of 60MW and 15MW respectively. RESL has been working closely with the Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO), the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC), AltaLink, and the MD of Pincher Creek throughout the exploration and development phases of the project."

AltaLink proposes connecting the McLaughlin Wind Farm to the electric system with the construction of 20 metres of new transmission line, a modification of an existing transmission line, and the installation of fibre optic cable in three locations. 

AltaLink is an Alberta-based utility company providing electricity transmission services to most of the province. It is a fully owned subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway Energy, which in turn is part of American multinational conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway Inc.

According to the 2015 needs identification document filed with the Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO), Alberta's regulatory body, "AESO and AltaLink presented this need to stakeholders, including residents, occupants and landowners, from June 2015 to November 2015. The AESO has considered feedback gathered from stakeholders, and technical and cost considerations, and will apply to the AUC for approval of the need for this transmission development."

Related to a similar project in the area, on September 5, 2017 AESO posted a document titled Need for the Heritage Wind Energy Centre Connection in the Town of Pincher Creek area on their website.

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