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It is the AUC’s responsibility to examine and consider whether it is in the public interest to approve the construction of any electric power plant facility in Alberta, including thermal, solar and wind power plants.
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.
The AUC determines whether the facility application 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:
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 AUC 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.
Certain studies may require noise consultants or other experts as set out in AUC Rule 012: Noise Control.
Power plant applications are subject to multi-step process with opportunities for landowner and public involvement and a requirement that landowners will be notified and their concerns considered. The AUC strongly encourages landowner involvement during several initial stages of a project development that may affect them, including when a facility company is developing a project concept, carrying out required consultation, and prior to submitting an application to the AUC. 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.
The site for a power plant of any nature must currently be owned by the applicant (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 regarding the negotiation of a wind or solar lease that 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 connect to a power plant can be routed across private land if the 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 AUC proceeding 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 Land and Property Rights Tribunal.