What is the project?
EPCOR is proposing to build a solar farm at our E.L. Smith Water Treatment Plant in southwest Edmonton.
The solar farm will green EPCOR operations using smart grid technology, make more river valley land available for public use and connect Edmontonians to renewable energy and clean water.
This project underscores our commitment to greening our operations in Edmonton, with innovative technology and in a way that reflects what people have told us is important to them.
Why is EPCOR proposing to build a solar farm?
At EPCOR, electricity use at our water treatment plants is our single largest source of greenhouse gas emissions. The solar farm will directly reduce these emissions, and create momentum in moving us towards Edmonton's energy transition goal of producing 10% of our electricity locally and our commitment to do so with green energy.
The solar farm will also create learning opportunities for the wider community. Once complete, it will become an interactive public demonstration site where researchers, students and citizens can learn more about solar energy, smart grids and battery storage technology and water treatment.
Why not build the solar farm elsewhere?
The solar panels will be directly connected to the water treatment plant and a battery storage system. Together, these elements create a smart grid, capable of generating and storing renewable power close to where it is used – an opportunity that would not be realized at any other site.
The proposed solar farm will be situated on 54 acres of previously cultivated land within the water plant's fence line. This location has been reserved for the future extension of the plant, to meet the water needs of our growing community. The solar farm would be a temporary activity until new water facilities are built.
How does this project align with City of Edmonton policy?
The E.L Smith solar farm has been designed to align with City policies:
- It advances the Energy Transition Strategy without any requirement for new funding. It creates momentum on climate leadership at a reasonable cost.
- It fits within the City's draft Ribbon of Green, facilitating enhanced wildlife and trail connectivity, and developing a renewable energy and cultural education and awareness hub.
- It reflects the City's strategic priorities as a community and aligns with sustainability, land management and recreation strategies.
What do the environmental assessments say?
The solar farm project has been reviewed extensively by independent environmental experts.
An Environmental Impact Assessment, conducted by Stantec and included in EPCOR's Land Development Application to the City of Edmonton, found that potential adverse effects of the project could be avoided, reduced or controlled.
The project has also been reviewed and approved by the Alberta Utilities Commission, who concluded the project was in the public interest and would not have significant social or environmental impacts.
Did EPCOR consult with the community? What did you hear?
Over two years of outreach, we've heard from many residents and community partners who are enthusiastic about the project and interested in being involved in its development.
People also told us what was important to them, and we've modified the design to respond to their creative ideas and feedback. That meant shrinking the solar farm's footprint, maintaining wildlife connectivity, and making more land in the river valley available for public use.
These improvements include:
- Transferring of 31.5 acres of EPCOR land to the City of Edmonton to promote conservation and trail development.
- Creating a minimum 100 meter wide corridor between EPCOR's land and the river.
- Adding 7.5 acres of new trees, improving wildlife connectivity.
- Replacing non-native pasture with area-appropriate plantings and pollinator species.
What are the next steps?
EPCOR has submitted its Land Development Application to the City of Edmonton. City Council will review our application in a public hearing on June 17, 2019.
If approved, construction would begin in the fourth quarter of 2019. The E.L. Smith solar project would be expected to be in service by the fourth quarter of 2020.