By Cole Parkinson
With a surrender of two-quarter sections of Municipal District of Taber grazing lands west of Vauxhall, M.D. of Taber council is exploring the possibility of using the land for solar projects.
During council’s regular meeting on September 11, they had a chance to hear what the process is moving forward with exploring the land’s solar suitability.
“Two quarters of grazing lease that was surrendered back to the M.D. and it came up that maybe it could be something we look at offering to a solar company because then we wouldn’t have to deal with a leaseholder or take it away from anybody,” said Brian Peers, director of municipal lands and leases.
The land is located at NW 17-12-18 W4 and SW 20-12-18 W4 and a one-year grazing lease was tendered for 2018.
M.D. administration contacted Joe Peters of Peters Energy Solutions to determine if the lands would be suitable for renewable energy development, specifically solar.
“Is it something we could show to potential solar companies?” asked Reeve Brian Brewin.
Peers believed the suitability study would be one of the earliest movements towards gauging interest from other solar companies.
“It’s the first step going down that path. If it doesn’t attract any solar company then why would we go down that road, right? I guess the biggest thing is proximity to a substation,” answered Peers.
In the early evaluation by Peters Energy Solutions seven standpoints were directed to administration to determine if the land would be usable in terms of renewable energy development.
Proximity of electrical infrastructure, connectivity to the higher capacity grid, condition of land for construction, environment influences (especially wetlands and biodiversity zones), access, potential impact to neighbouring stakeholders and quality of available land/scalability to different project sizes were listed.
The work to determine if the seven standpoints are available with the land will be led by Victor Beda, the senior project manager with Aura Power, and a three to four-page report will be done for a flat-rate cost of $2,000.
“I did talk to a solar company that we talked to in the past and they said if it was just a substation with no power line close by, 10 kilometres is kind of their standard limit of how far they’d build the line. It’s expensive to build a power line just for that. This one is about 16 to 17 kilometres away from that haul station. Unless they can get into a power line, this may be a non-starter anyway,” added Peers.
With a small investment of $2,000 to continue to investigate the suitability of the lands for solar projects, administration recommended continuing forward.
A motion was made to keep looking into the suitability of the land for solar projects and was passed unanimously.