Innisfail Solar Project-Community Generation
Would you like to find out more about the project? Please contact us at –
Address: 1200 – 350 7th Avenue SW, Calgary AB, T2P 3N9
Phone: +1 (866) 216 2481
The proposed Innisfail Solar Project is a 20MW ground mounted solar farm located on approximately 100 acres of land to the north west of Innisfail, between Highway 54 and the Golf Course. It is being developed by Innisfail Solar Corporation, a joint venture between Longspur Developments and Robert Bilton, a local businessman and the founder of Bilton Welding and Manufacturing Ltd which has been located in Innisfail since 1993.
The project is located within the municipal boundary of the Town of Innisfail, on land that currently does not earn the town any income, and when completed it will bring significant financial benefits to the local community, while not impacting upon the environment and future development plans of the town
Electricity generation from the development will be exported directly to the existing Fortis Alberta 25kV grid network, and no new overhead power lines are expected to be required. Once operational the project is expected to generate enough power for approximately 3,500 homes per year.
At this stage the target operational date is Fall/Winter of 2019. However, final development timescales will be subject to various factors, including power market drivers.
The total development costs for the project are expected to be in the order of $20 – 25 million.
- Approximately 58,000 solar PV Modules, with a rating of 350W each
- Support piles will be screwed, or driven, into the ground to a depth of up to 6 meters across the site and will support the structures that hold the PV modules
- Mounting racks / frames will hold the solar panels in place and will be no higher than 4.5m, above ground level at highest point. The current design focuses on a fixed mount, south facing system.
- Inverter/transformer units will be situated at intervals across the site, subject to final design 8 stations are expected, and will be approximately 2m high, 4m long and 1m wide.
- Site tracks will be constructed of crushed aggregate and will provide access into the development
- Underground cabling will connect all on-site electrical infrastructure to the existing Fortis Alberta grid network
- The security fence is expected to be chain link with multiple barb wires
Key Community Benefits
There are a number of community benefits resulting from this project for the Town of Innisfail and local community.
Rental Income – At least 25 years of secure, inflation adjusted income of $500/acre/year. Based on the current design this represents approximately $50,000/year to the town from land rent.
Community Benefit Fund – An annual contribution of $1,000 per megawatt of installed capacity will be made to a community endowment fund. Based on the current design, this contribution would be $20,000 annually. Local residents or community groups will be able to apply to the fund for projects or activities which provide benefit to the wider community or residents in need.
Long-term Tax Revenue – The solar plant will provide ongoing property tax revenue benefits to the Town of Innisfail over its life span, which in turn will feed into improvement of municipal services.
Local Economy Boost – As well as the various project revenues, a lot of the project construction and maintenance work will be completed by local companies.
Community Prominence – As one of the first municipalities to embrace a utility-scale community solar project, Innisfail will attract a lot of interest from being a leading and progressive municipality within Alberta.
Constraints, Impacts and Concerns
The Innisfail Solar Project has been developed with consideration of both local stakeholders and the environment. Details of key considerations are summarized below:
Noise – A Noise Impact Assessment has been conducted in-line with the requirements of AUC Rule 012 Noise Control. Findings of the assessment indicate that the project is comfortably in compliance with noise limits set by the guidelines at all surrounding noise receptors.
Glint and Glare – A Glint and Glare assessment has been conducted to evaluate the impact on residents and users of Highway 54. The assessment has found that neighboring dwellings will be shielded from any potential impacts by local vegetation cover (shrubs and trees), Highway 54 may experience some low-level impacts from glare, for a very short stretch of the road, between April and September between approximately 6am and 7am. The glare experienced would be similar to that reflected from a pond or small body of water.
Environmental Evaluation – An environmental evaluation of the proposed site area has been conducted in line with the guidance set out by Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP) ‘Wildlife Directive for Alberta Solar Energy Projects, October 4, 2017’. This appraisal commenced during April 2018 and was completed during October 2018.
Study findings have indicated that the site is suitable for the proposed project, and final reporting will be submitted to AEP during November 2018. Once AEP have had the opportunity to review the information we anticipate that they will provide us with a referral letter that will accompany the facilities application submission to the AUC, confirming there is minimal environmental impact.
Setbacks from 3rd Party Infrastructure – Consultation has been undertaken with a number of 3rd parties (Alberta Transport, the Town of Innisfail, Pipeline Owners/Operators) to ensure that appropriate setbacks from the development have been incorporated into the design, this is to ensure the development does not impact upon future expanision plans of the Highway or other infrastructure.
Maintenance and Weeds – Post construction the site will be seeded / returned to vegetation. Throughout operation of the solar array, routine maintenance will include the general upkeep of the grounds. As part of this, grass (or weeds) will be cut-back. Any vegetation that is higher than the bottom edge of the panels can impact upon generation, and this is in the projects interest to remove. Vegetation at solar projects is often kept under control through grazing sheep, which is something this project is also exploring.
Decommissioning and Reinstatement – Once the project reaches the end of it’s operational life, it will be the responsibility of the developer (Innisfail Solar Corporation) to return the site to its original condition. This will include the removal of all piles, mounting frames/racks and solar panels. Details of requirements are outlined in the AEPs Conservation and Reclamation Directive for Renewable Energy Operators, to which the project will be compliant.
Alberta’s electrical system is independently regulated by the AUC, their role is to ensures the fair and responsible delivery of utility services. Prior to the development beginning construction the AUC must approve the facilities application. For information regarding how to participate in the AUC facilities application and approval process, please see the AUC brochure ‘Public Involvement in a Proposed Utility Development’.