By Nikki Jamieson
Although the controversial Taber Solar Project was the focus of the meeting, a few issues with the Vauxhall Solar Project got cleared up as well.
During their regular Oct. 11 meeting, the Municipal District of Taber welcomed a delegation of concerned residents and representatives from BowMont Capital Advisory Ltd. and Canadian Solar Solutions Inc., who partnered together on behalf of CB Alberta Solar Development ULC (CBA), to discuss the proposed project five kilometres north of the town of Taber.
About 40 M.D. residents, the majority of which live around White Ash Road, showed up to the meeting to voice their collective disaproval over the Taber project’s location to the two developer representatives. Cardston-Taber-Warner MLA Grant Hunter and two Vauxhall residents, Dirk and Eveline Geerligs, had accompanied the delegation to ask questions and voice concerns about the M.D. solar projects they have planned.
The proposed solar project will be situated north of Vauxhall, on the right side of Highway 36, just past Highway 524. The substation that the plant will be sending its power to is located one-and-a-half kilometres away, on Township Road 134, making it, according to the developers, an ideal spot for the site.
The Vauxhall site will cover about 149 acres, and it will be a 16 megawatt project, producing about 31 gigawatt hours of electricity every year, which is enough energy to power 4,400 houses a year.
Dirk and Eveline live within a quarter mile of the proposed Vauxhall Solar Project, and as such, have a few concerns.
During the M.D, meeting, Dirk wanted to know what costs involved would prevent the developers from going out an extra 10 miles where they would not “bother anybody”.
“About 10 kilometres is the physical limit where the conductor can’t carry that capacity,” said Ian Sanchez, managing director of BowMont Capital & Advisory Ltd.
“We do look out to about ten kilometres of each substation.”
The conductor can’t carry the capacity of the electrical load beyond 10 kilometres, and they start having communication issues once they move beyond that practical limit.
Therefore, the closer they can get to a substation, the better, especially since it lessen the potential transmission loss of a load.
In addition to voicing concerns including harm to wildlife, property values, noise and health concerns, Dirk had raised the issue during the M.D. council’s Sept. 13 meeting, that the project was on irrigated land, not marginal land like was told during the project’s open house in August.
“The land in question, you told us was dry land corner off a pivot. Then I find out there’s a pivot on a dry land corner. Then all of a sudden it’s irrigated land. It changes what our opinion is on this,” said Dwight Tolton, M.D. councillor. “I wish you guys would have told us that, that night. I don’t know every piece of land here.”
Sanchez said that they shouldn’t have been told that it was on marginal land at the open house. The land in question however, was mixed.
“That land is a mix of irrigated and dry,” said Ian Sanchez.
“If somebody told you that it was all dryland, that was not correct.”
“The land right now has three pivots on it. So there is the kind of central, larger pivot to the northeast, there’s a smaller, circular pivot to the southwest, but the circular pivot has an oil well or gas well in the middle of it, so it does a 355 degree turn and it turns back. And the, in the south end there is a half pivot that turns around. Now both of those pivots turns aren’t quite ideal, so the landowner is intending to take those rights and transfer them to more of an ideal, more efficient pivot,”
said Mark Feenstra, senior manager for project development with CSS.
“There are some dry areas between those pivots being used as well. So, it is taking water rights that are being used in an less then efficient manner right now, and trying to optimize those as well.”
For more information on the Vauxhall Solar Project, visit http://www.vauxhallsolar.com.