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County enters solar project design agreement

Sun Alta Power to identify the feasibility and process required to develop lands located within the McDougal gravel pit

MOUNTAIN VIEW COUNTY - The county has agreed to enter into a design agreement with Sun Alta Power regarding a proposed solar energy project in McDougal Flats west of Sundre.

The move came during the recent regularly scheduled council meeting, held in person and by Zoom.

In November 2020, council agreed to enter into a memorandum of understanding with Sun Alta Power to identify the feasibility and process required to develop lands located within the McDougal gravel pit (SE 36-32-6-5), which had previously been used for aggregate extraction.

The memorandum of understanding outlined the general terms and condition of the project to allow for Sun Alta to continue developing a business case and financial model to determine project feasibility and to have further discussions with potential users of the generated electricity.

Since November 2020, county administration and Sun Alta Power have met on several occasions to discuss the project and to further clarify site limitations, potential lease arrangements and to initiate conversations around the community benefits and potential project located adjacent to the site for community enjoyment, director of legislative services Chris Atchison told council.

The design agreement approved by council on Sept. 8 will allow the company to undertake necessary on-site studies such as geotechnical reports and to identify costs associated with the construction of a solar project on the property.

It will also provide the company with a formal agreement that the county intends to proceed with a solar project at the lands to allow for them to secure funding from partners.

“From an administration perspective (the design agreement) doesn’t really commit us to anything further than what we are committed to now, other than allowing (Sun Alta) to get on site and start doing some studies,” said Atchison. 

Before the company proceeds with actual construction of the solar project a formal lease agreement between the municipality and Sun Alta outlining the financial terms and reclamation obligations of the parties, council heard.

Public hearing engagement process would be part of that formal lease agreement process.

Council passed a second related motion that authorizes administration to begin community engagement for the remaining 40 acres of the lands at the pit to determine the best future uses for the parcel of lands.

“The engagement is important and that is why we are bringing it forward,” he said.

Dan Singleton

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