Renewable power generation

Renewable power generation

AUC's role in renewable power generation

​Alberta Utilities Commission approval is required for the construction, operation and maintenance and decommissioning of power plants in Alberta. It is the Alberta Utilities Commission’s responsibility to examine and approve siting and construction of any electric power plant facility in Alberta, including solar and wind power plants. Some small projects may proceed without an application, if they meet the criteria for an exemption or if it is a micro-generation site.

Review of wind and solar power plant applications

The AUC has a well-established, independent and respected review process for considering applications for power plants intended to generate power and may be connected to the Alberta electric system. In examining applications, the AUC determines whether the facility is in the public interest, with specific focus on environmental, economic and social considerations and it ensures opportunities for public input.
AUC considerations for power plant applications may include:

  • environment impacts
  • wildlife impacts
  • property values
  • noise
  • visual impacts
  • land-use considerations
  • local and municipal economic benefits
  • other issues raised by participants

The project must meet provincial and federal standards and efforts to mitigate impacts are often included in decisions. The cost for a project or its financial viability or need for generating facilities is not something that the AUC considers since the market is deregulated and investment in infrastructure is at the risk of the applicant.

The Commission will review the technical aspects of the proposed project to ensure they are sound, and will review and assess the impact of the proposed power plant on nearby communities, including First Nations communities.

Public participation in AUC review process

All power plant applications are subject to multi-step process, with many opportunities for landowner and public involvement, and a requirement landowners will be notified and their concerns considered. The AUC strongly encourages landowner involvement during several stages of a project development that may affect them, including when a proponent is developing a concept, carrying out required consultation and has not yet made an application. The earlier in the process concerns are brought forward, the better. The AUC also enables landowner participation in the hearing process before a decision is made that may directly and adversely affect them. Funding may be available to directly and adversely affected people to hire lawyers and experts help represent your views during an AUC proceeding.

Landowner considerations

The site for a power plant of any nature must currently be owned by the proponent (a person or a company that puts forward a proposition or proposal) or agreed to by the landowner through contractual terms. The Alberta Farmers Advocate has information on factors a landowner should consider before agreeing to a power plant being built on their property.

While access to or use of land to locate a power plant lies in the hands of the landowner, transmission lines to serve a power plant can be routed across private land, if such routing is determined to serve the public interest. This could include lands neighbouring a power plant. The regulation of transmission routing is also a responsibility of the AUC. While power plant siting cannot be forced on a landowner, transmission siting may be, but only after a public proceeding of the Alberta Utilities Commission determines such routing is in the public interest. Landowners whose lands are used or accessed for transmission projects are eligible for compensation, subject to negotiation with the transmission facility owner, or transmission company. Disputes related to transmission siting compensation are adjudicated by the Alberta Surface Rights Board.

 

Access all regulatory documents

Anyone can access applications and proceeding information through the eFiling System.

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