Solar power production is now regulated throughout the Municipal District of Taber.
During the afternoon portion of their regular June 28 meeting, the M.D. of Taber council conducted a public hearing for the Solar Energy Systems amendment in their Land-Use Bylaw.
“As more interest has come with solar energy within the M.D., this is really about just to include solar as part of our bylaws, our Land-Use (Bylaw), just to be on top of things,” said Brian Brewin, reeve for the M.D. of Taber.
With the Alberta government aiming to have 30 per cent of the province’s power being produced from renewable energy by 2030 and a growing green energy industry, the M.D. wants to be prepared for when its residents decide to invest in some renewable energy. To do that, they are amending their current Land-Use Bylaw to include provisions for solar panels.
The amendment defines two types of solar energy systems; commercial/industrial and household.
Commercial/industrial systems are defined as any system that collects energy from the sun that is intended for off-site consumption, marketplace distribution or does not meet the household system definition.
Household systems are any system that collects energy from the sun and is intended primarily for sole use by the landowner, resident or occupant of the land the system is on.
“What is being proposed is two categories of solar energy systems,” said Diane Horvath, senior planner for the Oldman River Regional Services Commission, adding that those with household systems would have to submit an application to demonstrate that the energy produced would be used for on-site consumption.
“(There is) definite delineation between what those two types of solar systems that are going to be.”
One of the changes made to the bylaw after first reading include measuring the systems by kilo-wattage produced versus size of the panels.
While the M.D. has received no written comments on the bylaw, and there were only a couple of ratepayers in attendance, one resident from the Vauxhall area, Anthony Brummelhuis, did say that he originally heard the panels should not be on irrigated sites.
Brummelhuis has a 70-foot hill on his property, which a solar company wishes to install on.
For him, the operative word in the bylaw is ‘try’.
“It is good quality land, but when they approached me, it was just the perfect way to slide my pivot down off that hill,” said Brummelhuis, adding that the company viewed locations on a economical, not on agriculture, potential basis.
“It works for me, because we weren’t sure how to support and irrigate that (land) in the future, but I like the bylaw that says ‘try not to go on to irrigated land, but it’s still allowed.”
Although he was originally against solar panels, he does like that they are passive, can produce so much power and can compete with coal power — although he isn’t happy the province is shutting down so many coal plants. Solar power would also be better in the long term, in terms of both the environment and power bills.
“We all want cheaper power and cheaper infrastructure,” said Brummelhuis.
Bruce Nakamura raised the issue of glare. Although he expressed interest in tapping into solar power himself, he wanted to know how, especially if there were vehicles turning a corner on a road with solar panels along it, the issue of glare would be dealt with.
“It’s a 29 degree angle for solar panels,” said Derrick Krizsan, CAO for the M.D. of Taber.
“It’s not that they are going to be tipped right at them (the road). The glare is at the sun more then the road.”
After the public hearing closed, council passed the second and final readings for the bylaw.
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