A group of Paintearth County landowners are challenging the county’s approval of Halkirk #2 Wind Project, Capital Power’s application for 74 wind turbine generators, a collector system and a substation.
Paintearth County’s Subdivision and Development Appeal Board (SDAB) held a hearing Dec. 6 in the county chambers after 37 landowners – calling themselves the Battle River Group – started a petition and garnered 312 signatures.
The group wants the turbines to be 1.5 km from homes instead of the proposed 500 metres.
“The setbacks aren’t far enough,” said landowner Doug Potter after the hearing.
During the hearing, landowner Brenda Anderson told the SDAB that the county’s process of issuing the permits to Capital Power was flawed and the permits should be cancelled altogether.
“Although our land is within the Halkirk 2 Project area at no time were we approached to consent to any part of the project. At no time were we notified of the application being presented to the development authority.”
In addition, Anderson, who is a practicing lawyer in Stettler, told the SDAB that environmental issues weren’t addressed in the application process.
“Eighteen of the turbines are sited on environmentally significant areas.”
Anderson said the county also didn’t seek – but needed – neighbouring Flagstaff County’s approval because the area has significant water features. She said neither were the safety programs and road utilization strategy addressed or a sample lease agreement provided, which are required in the county’s land use bylaw.
Anderson said that during the appeal process landowners were directed to a website where there was one application for all of the wind turbines and substation. She said, however, landowners were forced to appeal each of the 74 wind turbines separately and pay $200 for each application.
“If we were to develop an apartment building in Edmonton with 74 units and ask that any appeal be for each unit specifically that would not happen.”
Anderson also pointed out that in March 2017 Paintearth County sent a letter to Capital Power supporting Halkirk #2 before any development permits were issued.
Ross Rawlusyk, SDAB chair, and retired chief administrative officer for Starland County, said because the landowners have an application before the SDAB “essentially you have thrown out all previous conditions in the process.”
Rawlusyk said the board will independently look at all of the relevant issues and hear from stakeholders before making its decision.
The hearing, however, was adjourned until April 23, 2018 at the request of Capital Power’s lawyer to allow Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) to finish its regulatory review process. Capital Power submitted a separate power plant (wind facility) and substation application to the AUC for approval. The AUC is expected to make its decision by March 12, 2018.
Capital Power submitted an environmental evaluation to Alberta Environment, which approved the project. Capital Power also submitted an application to the Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO) to connect to existing transmission infrastructure.
If Halkirk #2, five miles north of Halkirk, is approved, it would generate 148 megawatts and meet the needs of 50,000 Alberta homes annually. If it passes all the hurdles the project would be in-service early 2019. Capital Power held two public open houses for the proposed project, one in 2016 and another in 2017.
The 74 turbines at Halkirk #2 would be in addition to the 83 turbines at Halkirk Wind Farm, which generates about $2.3 million in taxes annually to the County of Paintearth and provides 8 – 10 jobs.
With the Halkirk #2 Project, Capital Power intends to meet increased power needs arising from the Alberta Climate Leadership Plan (CLP), which aims to end coal-fired electricity generation facilities by 2030.