MOUNTAIN VIEW COUNTY - The ongoing provincial review of renewable energy project policies and procedures, including as they relate to future reclamation costs, will benefit area landowners and the municipality going forward, says Mountain View County Reeve Angela Aalbers.
Responding to comments made by Premier Danielle Smith at Rural Municipalities of Alberta conference on Nov. 9, Aalbers said the review is needed and welcome.
“This is government balancing economic opportunities against doing the right thing and getting the policy and legislation right, which is what every Albertan would expect from government,” Aalbers told the Albertan.
“We will all benefit from this pause, as will the generations after us. The county is hopeful that through this review and the decisions that are made following the review, our local elected officials will have more tools to continue with thoughtful and sustained land use planning for the future, including the renewable industry.”
In August, the government paused approvals of new renewable electricity generation projects over one megawatt until Feb. 29, 2024 to allow the review of policies and procedures for the development of renewable electricity generation and for reclamation.
At the time, Minister of Affordability and Utilities Nathan Neudorf said the pause was in “direct response to concerns raised from municipalities and landowners related to responsible land use and the rapid pace of renewable development.”
Speaking at the Rural Municipalities of Alberta's fall convention in Edmonton, premier Smith said her government is committed to ensuring rural municipalities and rural landowners are “treated fairly” when it comes to future reclamation of renewable energy sites.
“Some of the feedback that we’ve got loud and clear from rural and agricultural landowners is that they want to ensure that these installations don’t interfere with production on prime agricultural land,” said Smith. “They also want to ensure that the end of life there’s a plan for reclamation.
“Albertans rightfully insist that the decision now account for the future. So, who is paying for the reclamation? How are we going to ensure that there is enough money set aside for that?”
Smith said she was recently informed that it costs at least $1 million to reclaim a single wind turbine site.
“I received advice recently that these large wind turbines not only have these large blades and steel towers, but they also have 850 cubic metres of concrete at their base,” she said.
“Alberta, from experience, now knows how important it is to get things right, and that is why we are taking the time to clarify the rules and resolve uncertainties.”
Reeve Aalbers said area residents should be encouraged to “get involved with the ongoing Alberta Utilities Commission consultation right now and have your say.”
The official Opposition has called on the province to immediately end the pause on renewable energy project approvals.