Live Long and Prosper: Vulcan Solar Project Receives Quick Approval from Alberta Utilities Commission

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The Alberta Utilities Commission (“Commission”) approved the EDF EN Canada Inc. (“EDF”) 77.5 megawatt Vulcan Solar Project on October 25, 2016 in Decision 21897-D01-2016. This is only the second utility-scale solar generation project to be approved by the Commission [1]  and is one of about twenty proposed projects that would collectively bring approximately 581 megawatts of new solar power into production, according to the Alberta Electric System Operator’s system access service request list. [2]

One notable aspect of the approval is the short time frame in which EDF obtained its approval – a mere 83 days. The efficiency and timeliness of the Commission’s approval is likely attributable, in part, to the co-location of the Vulcan Solar Project with EDF’s existing 300 megawatt Blackspring Ridge Wind Project, as there were no objections raised to the development of the project adjacent to existing facilities.

While the reasons provided in the decision itself are not particularly noteworthy, viewed against the backdrop of the Government of Alberta’s much anticipated Renewable Electricity Program (REP), the routine nature of the decision demonstrates the Commission’s ability to respond to and accommodate new renewable developments that will be necessary to meet Alberta’s goal of reaching 30% renewable generation by 2030. Although full details of the REP have yet to be announced, a recent Government of Alberta press release [3] stated that the program will support the development of 5,000 megawatts of additional renewable energy in Alberta by 2030. In order for projects to qualify for support under the REP, projects must:

  • be based in Alberta;
  • be new or expanded;
  • be five megawatts or greater in size; and
  • meet the definition of “renewable sources” used by Natural Resources Canada.
Further details on the operation of the REP are expected to be released later in 2016.
 

 
[1] The Commission has previously approved the GTE Solar Inc. 15 megawatt Brooks Solar Power Plant near Brooks, Alberta in Decision 2013-027, as well as a number of smaller solar generation installations under 1 megawatt.

[2] Alberta Electric System Operator, “AESO Connection Project List” (as of October 1, 2016).

[3] Government of Alberta, “Renewable energy target improves health, environment” (September 14, 2016).

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