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Sun power for Hays

Posted on June 16, 2016 by Vauxhall Advance

Nikki Jamieson
Vauxhall Advance
njamieson@tabertimes.com

In 2019, Hays could have sun power.

Bowmont Capital & Advisory Ltd. and Canadian Solar Solutions Inc. have partnered together to, on behalf of C&B Alberta Solar Development ULC (CBA), jointly develop a solar power plant located near the hamlet, better known as the Hays Solar Project.

The proposed plant is located on approximately 190 acres of land, centred at the quarter section SW 18-13-13 W4M.

“Southern Alberta has an excellent solar resource,” said Ian Sanchez, managing director of Bowmont Capital & Advisory Ltd., who, along with Canadian Solar Solutions Inc. will be working on jointly developing the Hays Solar Project.

“The reason we selected Hays, is that we want to build adjacent to sub-stations that have a very large load, and the Hays sub-station – which will be right adjacent to our plant – has a very large load, associated with it.”

According to Sanchez, the proposed power plant will produce about 40 gigawatt hours of energy power per year. If that doesn’t sound like much, don’t be fooled.

One gigawatt-hour is equal to one million kilowatt-hours, meaning that the site will produce 40 million kilowatt-hours per year.

The average Canadian household use approximently 11,600 kilowatt hours a year, so that would mean that the proposed Hays facility would be able to produce enough energy every year to provide power nearly 3,500 households each year. That’s 21 times the population of Hays.

The site has already been in the planning stages for a year now, and the project organizers are hosting an open house at the Hays Civic Centre on June 21, from 4-7:30 p.m., to allow local residents to provide input or voice their concerns about the project. They expect to hear concerns about visual impacts, noise, increase in traffic and potential impacts to wildlife in the area.

“There are very few impacts in all of those respects, and that, of course, is what we want to talk to people about.”

The project will be submitting an application to the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC), for approval to construct and operate the solar site later this year. If all goes well, construction is expected to start in 2018, and it will be up and running by 2019. The reason the timeline is so long is because they are waiting for approval from the Alberta government to set up the plant.

“Probably the biggest delay in that process is from two things; one is receiving the permits to construct it, but the bigger one is the Alberta government is currently in the process of a large renewable energy procurement,” said Sanchez, referring to the Climate Leadership Plan that was passed, in which they plan to shut down 6,000 megawatts of coal firepower in the province and replace it with energy from renewable sources. “That is probably the biggest delay in the process, because they are going to start procurement at the end of this year, and it will probably take until the middle of next year before they decided which projects will be successful. And so that’s what’s pushing the construction start out to 2018.”

When construction on the plant does start, there will be some increase in traffic for the roughly 10 months it will take to build the plant. But once that is done, locals can expect one plant operator, who will be visiting weekly. But overall, Sanchez believes that Hays will benefit greatly from the solar plant, saying that during construction up to 300 workers will be employed, and the hamlet will see a steady boost in property tax revenues.

“During construction, obviously there is a bit of traffic for a short period of time,” said Sanchez. “It is a solar project, it is very, very benign, which means it has virutally no impacts… Generally, all quite positive for the community.”

For more information on the Hays Solar Project, visit http://www.hayssolar.com.

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