Capital Power reduces turbine numbers in Halkirk 2 Wind project

Capital Power representatives Michael Sheehan and Rob Wydareny presented an update on the energy company’s latest improvements to the Halkirk 2 Wind project slated for construction summer 2023.

This took place at County of Paintearth council’s regular meeting virtually on Tues. Dec. 14.

The pair acknowledge there were a few concerns from the community that were taken into account including turbine siting and setbacks, noise, reclamation and decommissioning, shadow flicker, health effects, consultation, wildlife impacts, local employment opportunities, property values, etc.

To address some of these topics, Capital Power has decreased the number of turbines from 74 approved by the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) down to between 25 and 36 pending final selection which has reduced the project footprint overall.

In keeping with Paintearth County’s land use bylaw, the setbacks from non-participating lands has increased from 750 metres to 1,000 metres.

The plan for lighting found at the top of the turbines is to install an Aircraft Detection Lighting System to mitigate the impact of the required turbine lighting on the community (subject to applicable approvals).

Sheehan explained that the lights would only turn on at night when an aircraft was detected through radar which alerts the plane of their presence.

When the aircraft exits the zone, the lights will automatically turn off so they should be off for the majority of the night unless there is a plane in the area.

Coun. George Glazier asked Sheean and Wydareny if this new technology would be installed on the first set of Halkirk turbines already operational.

They responded by saying it hadn’t been considered but would look into it as it would be a retrofitted attachment.

As for safety, the company has reduced the quantity of underground collector lines running along Township Road 400, which will reduce construction activities and associated traffic congestion on a main community road and a traffic management plan will be developed in consultation with the County of Paintearth, landowners and residents.

A project noise impact assessment is underway and results will be shared in a future update.

All adjustments made from the first application including a time extension will be submitted to the AUC by the second quarter of 2022 with the project fully operational by the end of 2024.

Halkirk 2 will bring in approximately $56 million in tax revenue to the County of Paintearth over an approximate 30-year life of the project as well as over 200 jobs during construction over 12 to 14 months and supply chain opportunities for local contractors, suppliers and spin-off benefits including lodging and restaurants.

There will be between two and five permanent positions projected for operations and maintenance once operational.

Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Michael Simpson shared with the ECA Review that the county hopes to build a legacy program with three energy companies that have projects in the municipality.

The program would go to supporting local community committees, groups and programs.

This is still in its preliminary stages.

Following Capital Power’s presentation, county resident Dwayne Felzien came to council asking a few questions about this particular project.

He began by stating, “Thank you to Capital Power for the update and renewed commitment in working with the community that is being asked to host the proposed Halkirk 2 Wind Project.”

“During the initial stages of the project, right up to the time extension Capital Power asked for from the AUC (2019/2020), 51 affected residents expressed concerns regarding tower placement impacts on residents, wildlife, waterways, the Paintearth and Battle River Valley’s and a local aerodrome. Many of these residents being project participants.

His first question was: ‘Are the 74 previously undeveloped conditional permits applied for, valid?’

“The process of the Halkirk 2 Wind Farm and the related conditional permits has cost County residents approximately $1 million in legal and administration costs as identified by the County and filed to the Alberta Courts.”

The second was “Will the county be seeking reimbursement from Capital Power for these funds which have been removed from local community support projects? 

And finally, “Will this council be supporting county residents and ratepayers to build a better project adding to an increased tax base and community support?”

Administration confirmed his questions and agreed to get back to him.

 

Terri Huxley
ECA Review

About the author

Terri Huxley

Terri grew up on a grain farm near Drumheller, Alberta with an eye for the beautiful and uncharted. Living in such a unique and diverse area has helped her become the photographer and reporter she is today.

Coming from the East Central region getting this newspaper on her dinner table growing up, it helped her understand the community she now serves.

In May 2019, Terri was awarded Alberta Weekly Newspaper Association (AWNA) Canada's Energy Citizens Photographic Awards Sports Action – First Place as well as first for the same sports action image nationally with the Canadian Community Newspaper Association (CCNA). Fast forward to 2020, she has won second in the same category for the AWNA.