A 47-megawatt solar power project has been proposed for a site southwest of the Nova Chemicals petrochemical complex.Photo contributed

$52-million solar power project proposed for Joffre

Project to be built southwest of Nova Chemicals plant could be producing power by the end of 2021

A $52-million solar power project has been proposed for a site near the Joffre petrochemical complex.

Background work on the 47-megawatt facility began in 2018 and an application is expected to go to the Alberta Utilities Commission early next year.

If all goes according to plan, construction could begin by mid-year and be finished by the end of 2021, said project development lead Jillian Haneiph.

A development permit would also have to be approved by Lacombe County.

The project would be built in two phases — 22 megawatts in the first phase and 25 megawatts in the second — and create almost 40 construction jobs.

When completed, three full-time operations and maintenance positions will be created and $200,000 to $300,000 in taxes generated for the county, said Haneiph.

Power generated would go into the provincial electrical grid and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 47,000 tonnes per year and 1.4 million tonnes over the expected 25-year life of the project.

It is being developed by Pace Canada LP, a joint venture between Calgary-based Switch Power and Pathfinder Clean Energy, a global clean energy development and investment company.

Haneiph said the companies are already in discussions with potential users of the electricity generated.

“It’s quite possible that there are commercial or industrial (users) that are interested in this,” she said.

While it will be located next to the huge Nova Chemical petrochemical complex, no formal partnerships have been formed so far.

“We are certainly open to that.”

A number of environmental studies, including breeding bird, raptor nest and fall migration surveys, have been undertaken, along with watercourse and wetland mapping.

Glint and glare studies will also be done to ensure that nearby residents or passing drivers are not affected by the south-facing solar panel arrays, said Haneiph.

The public can get an update on the companies’ plans through a virtual open house scheduled for Friday from 2 to 4 p.m. A link is available on Lacombe County’s website at www.lacombecounty.com to register for the open house.

The two companies are also working on several other solar power projects in Alberta. A 13-megawatt project is being developed in the Hanna area, a nine-megawatt project near Caroline and a six-megawatt project at Youngstown.

solar panels