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County plans solar project public engagement

SunAlta to undertake studies regarding proposed solar photovoltaic system at McDougal gravel pit

MOUNTAIN VIEW COUNTY - The county plans to undertake a public engagement campaign as part of a proposed solar generation project west of Sundre, officials said.

The county recently entered into a design agreement with SunAlta Power regarding the project on land located in the county’s McDougal gravel pit immediately west of Rge. Rd. 60 south of Highway 584, at SE 36-32-6-5.

The engagement campaign will get underway early in the new year and will help determine what the community identifies as priorities for the community amenity portion of the project, said county economic development and marketing officer Natalie McKay.  

“At this point the public engagement campaign would involve meeting with the community in an open format,” McKay told The Albertan. “SunAlta would be a part of that at a certain point. We would answer any question and hear any concerns or ideas and input from the community.

Asked if the campaign will include an open house, she said, “At this point we don’t have the specifics plan created but that is definitely something we are looking at, yes. We want to be very open and inclusive for everyone who has any thought process around it.” 

The design agreement allows SunAlta to undertake studies regarding the proposed solar photovoltaic system, and lets it pursue further partnerships required in support of the feasibility of the project.

In November 2020, council agreed to enter into a memorandum of understanding with the company outlining general terms and conditions of the project, and allowing the company to develop a business case and financial model and have discussions with potential users of the generated electricity.

Since then, county administration and the company have met 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 use, said county director of legislative services Chris Atchison.

At a council meeting in September, councillors passed a motion authorizing 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.

“It is important to remember that any project will be subject to appropriate planning and development processes like any other application that comes before the county,” he said. 

“The process for any potential redesignation and other development permits will be strictly followed as with any application from the public.”

SunAlta Power was established in 2018 by Aenergy Capital and BTM Energy Partners.

Dan Singleton

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