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​We are proposing to build a new solar farm on our property just south of the existing E.L. Smith Water Treatment Plant. The project site is a 54-acre area that is owned by EPCOR and located just below the Anthony Henday / Cameron Heights turn-off, at 3900 E.L. Smith Road.

If approved by the City of Edmonton, the solar farm will have a peak generation capacity of approximately 10 megawatts (MW). If the solar farm produces more energy than the water treatment plant can use, any excess will be exported back to the electrical grid. The proposed project will involve:

  • Installing up to 45,000 solar panels on our property south of the water treatment plant
  • Connecting the panels to the water treatment plant and electrical grid
  • Removing select trees on the property to accommodate the solar panels
  • Building a new fence to enclose the solar farm

All of the proposed work will take place within EPCOR's property. Access to the City of Edmonton's recreational trails and green space located around the project site will not be interrupted.

Project map


Click on the map for a larger view.

New fencing

The new solar farm will be entirely surrounded by an 8 foot (approximately 2.4 meter) high fence, topped with barbed wire for public safety and site security. The new sections will match the fence currently surrounding the water treatment plant. We are planning to:

  • Upgrade a section of existing fence
  • Install a new section of fence
  • Connect to the existing fence

 The location of these changes are shown on the map.

Based on public feedback and the results of our environmental field surveys, we evaluated our plans and have reduced the overall project footprint in an effort to address concerns relating to aesthetics, land reclamation, environment and wildlife. On the southeast side of the proposed development we've incorporated greater setback distances from the North Saskacthewan River and on the south side, greater setback distances from our property line. The areas will be revegetated with native trees and shrubs resulting in a net gain of vegetated area from the development while also providing additional cover for wildlife. The new boundary and fence line are shown on the project map.

Assessing environmental impacts

At EPCOR, the environment will always be a top priority. For our Facility Application, we contracted a third-party consultant who has completed a number of environmental assessments in order to survey the potential impact of the project on wildlife, wetlands, soils, vegetation and historical resources. Together, these surveys constitute an "Environmental Impact Assessment", or EIA, and were included in the Facility Application we submitted to the AUC for approval in early 2018. The AUC reviewed our application through a public process and determined that "the project is in the public interest having regard to the social, economic, and other effects of the project, including its effect on the environment." As part of this process, our environmental evaluation is available for public review, and will also be available through the City of Edmonton public hearing process.

The environmental studies conducted to date show that the potential effects associated with project activities can be mitigated using a combination of standard and project-specific environmental protection measures. We are committed to minimizing the impact of our activities on the environment and, where possible, we will follow recommendations in order to ensure no significant lasting environmental impacts result from project activities.

Enhancements in and around the development

If approved, EPCOR commits to implementing an enhanced post-construction wildlife monitoring program and transferring a 31.5 acre parcel of mostly forested land to the City of Edmonton to provide conservation certainty and Ribbon of Green opportunities.

Other enhancements include the addition of bat and bird boxes in the existing forested areas, planting of pollinator species and replacing disturbed non-native vegetation in the development area with native species.

Community integration workshops

EPCOR hosted a series of workshops to engage with the community organizations and to gather feedback regarding innovating and unique ideas we could potentially implement to integrate the solar farm into the proposed location, should it be approved.

​The input provided has been used to inform the project design and will continue to be used as EPCOR moved forward.

Project objectives

  1. Integrate the solar farm into the North Saskatchewan River Valley and plan for future trails proposed by the City of Edmonton's Ribbon of Green.
  2. Enhance the solar farm aesthetics and the natural landscape.
  3. Provide educational opportunities about the history and cultural resources of the land in collaboration with stakeholders and Indigenous communities.
  4. Construct an interactive public demonstration site to showcase the Solar Farm and provide education and awareness about solar technology.
  5. Establish long-term partnerships and hands-on learning opportunities to support educational and research opportunities associated with solar energy generation.

Preliminary site concept map

 

*detailed designs and finalized plans are subject to change

Smart grid system

The solar farm has received financial support of approximately $10.7 million from Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) and approximately $1.9 million from Alberta Innovates (AI) to help enhance the solar farm into a complete micro-grid system by including a battery energy storage system (BESS).

The proposed solar farm will allow EPCOR to:

  • generate local, renewable energy
  • reduce our greenhouse gas emissions
  • reduce our electricity demand from the grid
  • provide our customers with clean water made from clean energy

The micro-grid system enhancements, which are being supported through NRCan and AI, will enable the solar farm to use the latest innovative technologies to:

  • add resiliency to the E.L. Smith Water Treatment Plant
  • reduce reliance on the electrical grid
  • provide another tool for EPCOR to optimize its load from the E.L. Smith Water Treatment Plant and solar power exports to the grid
  • offer unique research and learning opportunities related to large-scale renewable energy and smart grid technology – the first of its kind in Canada.

This system presents collaboration opportunity for EPCOR and local post-secondary institutions to study the application of intermittent renewable generation with a load and use of significantly sized battery energy storage system. EPCOR will be installing batteries similar to the example shown on the image below.

 

Artist renderings

Looking west from recreational trail (located east of project site, across river)

Looking west from recreational trail (located east of project site, across river)
Click image for a larger view

Looking northeast from recreational trail (located southwest of project site)

Looking northeast from recreational trail (located southwest of project site)
Click image for a larger view

Looking northeast from Anthony Henday (located southwest of project site

Looking northeast from Anthony Henday (located southwest of project site)
Click image for a larger view