By Nikki Jamieson
Sunny Vauxhall could soon harness that power for its homes.
Bowmont Capital & Advisory Ltd. and Canadian Solar Solutions Inc. have partnered together, on behalf of C&B Alberta Solar Development ULC (CBA), to jointly develop a solar power plant located near Vauxhall.
The proposed site, better known as the Vauxhall Solar Project, is located just five kilometre northeast of town, in an ideal spot just one and a half kilometre away from an electrical substation.
“Southern Alberta has a very, very attractive solar resource. So it is a great place to have solar plants,” said Ian Sanchez, managing director of Bowmont Capital & Advisory Ltd.
“The specific sites we’ve selected are close to substations… By locating close to distribution substations, we can minimize the need for additional transmission or distribution times.”
With the recent Municipal District of Taber’s land-use amendment to include solar systems, the area becomes just that much more attractive.
“The amendment was related to land-use in fringe zone land,” said Sanchez.
“Solar is a permitted use on land that is designated or zoned fringe.”
Last month, the solar partners held an open house for the Hays Solar Project. While the two communities can be considered to be close by each other, the two projects will be located by different substations, so they will not be competing against each other.
The Vauxhall project will be on a piece of land that is 149 acres in size. The site, once completed, will be a 16 megawatt project.
That means it will produced about 31 gigawatt hours of electricity every year.
That’s enough energy, according to Sanchez, to power about 4,400 households each year. Considering that the town’s population is about 1,500, that means the site will be able to at least cover triple the number of the town’s households.
Additionally, the site will off set some of the local load at the nearby substations, something Sanchez calls “very efficient”, as it ups the local load force and avoids transmission loss.
“Those substations are serving the local electrical load… There is a number of industrial uses that consume electricity, and normally that’s delivered in the way of the transmission system,” said Sanchez.
“But if you generate close to the load, close to the electrical load, it’s quite a bit more efficient. You basically avoid transmission system losses of electricity.”
They have submitted applications to the Alberta Utilities Commission, and, if all goes according to plan, they will receive approval at the end of the year. Once that has been granted, construction on the site is expected to start in early 2018, with the site running by early 2019. An open house will be held on Tuesday, Aug. 9, at the Community Centre from 4:30-7 p.m. They expect to hear concerns about visual impacts, noise, increase in traffic and potential impacts to wildlife in the area. But one issue that has been on people’s minds — glare — is more of a non-concern, despite how much it is brought up.
“It really isn’t an issue. The panels, by their nature, are designed to absorb sunlight, as opposed to reflecting it. That’s why they generate electricity,” said Sanchez, adding that Bowmont’s partner in the project, Canadian Solar, has many solar projects in Ontario. “They’ve been constructed adjacent to primary highways, they’ve actually been constructed adjacent to airports. And there’s been no glare issues reported, once the plants are in operation.”
For more information on the project, visit http://www.vauxhallsolar.com.