Mountain View County Council has authorized County administration to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with SunAlta Power to further explore the potential for a solar project at the McDougal Gravel Pit site.
Council made the decision to move forward with the SunAlta MOU during its November 18th regular meeting following a review of submissions to a County-issued Expression of Interest seeking potential partnership opportunities associated with the development of a Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Installation at the McDougall Gravel Pit site along Range Road 60 just south of Highway 584.
While Council’s support will allow the County and SunAlta to begin further visioning how development of a Solar PV installation could be realized and continue exploring partnership opportunities with industry to purchase generated power, the County still maintains control over whether the project ultimately proceeds as Council approval would be required to finalize any agreement to utilize the nearly 40 acre County-owned site. The proposed site is part of an entire County-owned parcel of approximately 80 acres (half quarter section).
Key to Council’s support of moving to the next step in the process was that plans continue for a public engagement campaign over the potential of mixed-use recreation on the remainder of the site when County gravel extraction activities cease. Also important to both the potential solar project and public recreation uses is the continued reclamation of the gravel pit site to a provincially certified standard.
While gravel extraction is complete on the portion of the site under consideration, County Operational Services estimate that a stockpile of aggregate remains which will take approximately six years to deplete. Approval of any solar project would not necessarily be contingent on completion of gravel extraction activities on the remainder of the site.
It is also important to remember that any project will be subject to appropriate planning and development processes like any other application that comes before the County. The process for any potential redesignation (rezoning) and other development permits will be strictly followed as with any application from the public.
The County will continue to update the public on the progress of the solar project’s viability, and submission of an proposal for Council consideration.
Mountain View County commissioned a study in 2017 exploring the potential to construct a solar photovoltaic (PV) system focusing on two prospective areas within the county. Based on this initial study the County decided to focus on the reclaimed McDougal Gravel Pit as the preferred location.
In 2019, MVC sent out an RFP for a detailed Interconnectivity Study and Financial Analysis of a potential solar photovoltaic (PV) system at the McDougal Gravel Pit site. SunAlta Power was the successful proponent and delivered the requested studies in early 2020.
Also in 2019, the County applied for, and was awarded, a $70,000 Community Generation Capacity Building Program grant administered through Energy Efficiency Alberta and the Municipal Climate Change Action Centre. This covered the cost of updating the 2017 report and completing the 2019 Interconnectivity Report and Financial Assessment of a potential Solar PV installation at the McDougal Pit location.
SunAlta Power was established in 2018, by Aenergy Capital (AEC) and BTM Energy Partners (BTM) in response to an emerging need in the Alberta renewable energy market to create a platform that integrated the commercial and technical expertise required to successfully identify, develop and implement commercial/community opportunities for small-to-medium sized decentralized solar PV projects, either as behind-the-meter microgeneration-connected or distribution-connected projects .
The objective of SunAlta Power is to establish and facilitate the development of partnerships that allow for Alberta businesses and communities to become active participants in these opportunities, and to develop low cost and innovative strategies for partnership development, project financing, and project delivery that can be easily replicated and ensure that medium sized projects are economically viable.
SunAlta Power has entered into a joint venture partnership with Irricana Power Generation to develop a 12 MW distribution-connected Solar PV generating facility approximately 14 KMs southeast of the Town of Bassano. When fully operational this project would supply the Alberta electrical grid with approximately 17.6 GWh of renewable electricity every year.
SunAlta Power is developing Alberta's first Virtual Power Plant (VPP), starting with a demonstration of 8-10 aggregated DER sites across the province, including integration of several onsite consumer solar PV plus storage projects and distribution-connected solar PV plus storage projects under a single operating platform.