MOUNTAIN VIEW COUNTY - Premier Danielle Smith’s assertion at the last week’s Rural Municipalities of Alberta (RMA) convention that she hears rural municipal concerns around renewable energy projects on agriculture land is encouraging, says reeve Angela Aalbers.
“It is important for Mountain View County to hear that the premier understands this issue, and we look forward to working with our government to find viable solutions,” Aalbers told the Albertan.
Speaking to RMA members at the convention, Smith reportedly said, “I’m supportive of solar and wind projects where they make sense. But I can tell you from conversations with people in my own community that putting solar panels on prime agricultural land does not make sense.”
Mountain View County has been lobbying various provincial ministries to consider the impact of future renewable resource projects, such as solar panel facilities, on agriculture production.
Specifically, the county recently called on the minister of Agriculture and Irrigation, to “undertake a review and analysis at the provincial level on the extensive use of high quality agriculture lands for the development of renewable energy project and how that will impact Alberta’s ability to grow agriculture products in the future.
“Mountain View County is concerned about the current trend of renewable energy projects being approved by the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) for placement on private lands that are better suited for agricultural production.”
As well, the county recently called on the minister of Energy to “delay the issuance of AUC approvals for alternative energy projects on both public and private lands until such time that a transparent reclamation strategy is developed and approved by Alberta Environment and Protected Areas that deals with end-of-use reclamation and/or recycling obligations as well as ensuring appropriate securities are in place during the life of the project.
“The county is concerned that without firm policy in place, renewable energy projects will likely require similar future taxpayer funded programs such as the Orphan Well Association and will result in the creation of land liabilities similar to the current state of brownfields in the province.”
Reeve Aalbers said the county is pleased that Smith acknowledges rural municipal concerns.
“The premier understood our concerns with current legislation, and how it also the AUC to be the sole approver of renewable energy projects, without consideration for municipal statutory plans,” Aalbers said.
“She also acknowledges how weather conditions can decrease the output from renewable energy projects, which impacts the reliability of the electricity grid, and issues with the lack of reclamation requirements.”
The RMA is made up of 69 rural municipalities, including Mountain View and Red Deer counties. It lobbies the provincial government on issues of concern to rural Alberta