The Alberta Utilities Commission (“Commission”) approved the EDF EN Canada Inc. (“EDF”) 77.5 megawatt Vulcan Solar Project on October 25, 2016 in Decision 21897-D01-2016. This is only the second utility-scale solar generation project to be approved by the Commission and is one of about twenty proposed projects that would collectively bring approximately 581 megawatts of new solar power into production, according to the Alberta Electric System Operator’s system access service request list.
One notable aspect of the approval is the short time frame in which EDF obtained its approval – a mere 83 days. The efficiency and timeliness of the Commission’s approval is likely attributable, in part, to the co-location of the Vulcan Solar Project with EDF’s existing 300 megawatt Blackspring Ridge Wind Project, as there were no objections raised to the development of the project adjacent to existing facilities.
While the reasons provided in the decision itself are not particularly noteworthy, viewed against the backdrop of the Government of Alberta’s much anticipated Renewable Electricity Program (REP), the routine nature of the decision demonstrates the Commission’s ability to respond to and accommodate new renewable developments that will be necessary to meet Alberta’s goal of reaching 30% renewable generation by 2030. Although full details of the REP have yet to be announced, a recent Government of Alberta press release stated that the program will support the development of 5,000 megawatts of additional renewable energy in Alberta by 2030. In order for projects to qualify for support under the REP, projects must:
- be based in Alberta;
- be new or expanded;
- be five megawatts or greater in size; and
- meet the definition of “renewable sources” used by Natural Resources Canada.