A revised design for a proposed solar power project northwest of Pincher Creek was front and centre at an open house Jan. 16.
Slightly leaner in size than one presented almost a year ago, the project’s placement of solar panels is the biggest modification.
“We’ve made a number of changes that we think offer advantages relative to our earlier concept,” said Mike Peters, director of public affairs for Evolugen, the company behind the Sunrise Solar Project proposal.
A visual change in the layout is the most substantive difference, Peters added.
“Within the quarter-section that was closest to town, we’re going to move [those panels] further north,” he said.
“So, that’s going to reduce the proximity to the municipal district boundary. As part of that, we’ve actually ended up reducing the size of the project by 15 per cent.”
Peters believes the new concept will help to reduce not only the visual impact but its effect on existing agricultural land in the area.
“We’re really trying to shrink our footprint,” he said.
While there’s no formal plan in place on who might be connected to the power generated from the solar panels, there’s no doubt it’s needed provincially in light of the recent extreme cold snap that saw power consumption result in grid alerts being issued for five consecutive days.
“We see the benefits of this project on so many levels,” Peters told Shootin’ the Breeze.
“We can look at it as an overall contribution to the electrical grid and this idea of bringing on new power generation to meet rising demand, new less carbon-intensive energy. So, we see that contributing to grid stability.”
Other benefits the company feels Sunrise will bring include stable long-term tax revenue to the MD, a rise in the need for local labour during the construction phase and something new to the table — a community benefits fund.
“We’re proposing initially a contribution of $25,000 annually,” Peters said. “That would be something that would be directed towards community priorities, causes, events, as a way to ensure the community is really benefiting from this project.”
If approved, this would be Evolugen’s second undertaking in Alberta. Its first venture, the Spring Coulee project, northeast of Cardston, with a 42-megawatt capacity, could be fully up and running by next month.