Written by Deirdre Sheehan, Thomas McInerney and Phillip Hanna
On August 7, 2020, following a year of consultation with stakeholders, the Alberta Utilities Commission issued a revised draft version of Rule 007: Applications for Power Plants, Substations, Transmission Lines, Industrial System Designations and Hydro Developments. Among other things, the purpose of the AUC's consultation and review of Rule 007 is to update and streamline existing application requirements and to address emerging technologies, particularly for power plant projects.
The draft rule has been reorganized and introduces separate application requirements for wind power plants, solar power plants, thermal power plants, "other" (biomass, geothermal and compressed air) power plants, and hydroelectric power plants. While many of the application requirements mirror those already included in the current Rule 007 for power plants, the draft rule introduces several significant new application requirements for all types of power plant applications, including the following:
- details of the project's ownership structure;
- emergency response plan and risk information, including confirmation of an applicable corporate or site-specific emergency response plan, and identification of site-specific risks, emergency mitigation measures, and site monitoring and communication protocols that will be put into place;
- submission of a project-specific environmental protection plan (or environmental management plan) itemizing measures to minimize adverse environmental effects during construction and operation;
- an overview of how the operator will ensure sufficient funds are available at the project’s end-of-life to cover the cost of decommissioning and reclamation; and
- explicit references to Indigenous groups in information requirements and participant involvement program guidelines, as well as a specific requirement to include any Alberta Consultation Office (ACO) assessment of Aboriginal consultation requirements and if consultation has been required, the ACO's adequacy assessment and related documentation.
For wind and solar power plant applications, the draft rule includes new information requirements for shadow flicker (an effect caused when the shadow of rotating wind turbine blades passes through constrained openings on neighbouring properties such as windows) and solar glare assessment reports, respectively. Currently, applicants for wind and solar power plants may provide such reports as part of applications in light of stakeholder concerns, or are requested by the Commission to provide such reports in Information Requests. However, the draft rule introduces standardized report requirements. In addition, the draft rule also requires that wind and solar power plants provide an initial renewable energy operations conservation and reclamation plan as set out in Alberta Environment and Parks' Conservation and Reclamation Directive for Renewable Energy Operations.
The draft rule also recognizes the rapid advancements in technology facing power plant proponents. Accordingly, the draft rule provides that an applicants for wind, solar, thermal or "other" power plants may submit an application where equipment and site layout changes are anticipated post-filing. For such applications, the draft rule does identify certain elements that may not change, such as the project site boundary for wind and solar power plants. For such applications, the draft rule requires that a final project update be filed 90 days prior to the start of construction, and specifies allowances for permitted post-approval changes, changes requiring a letter of enquiry and changes requiring an amendment application.
The AUC is requesting additional stakeholder feedback on the draft rule up to October 2, 2020.