Southern Alberta residents concerned over proposed wind farm

Click to play video: 'Hill Spring, Alta., residents concerned over proposed wind farm'
Hill Spring, Alta., residents concerned over proposed wind farm
A proposed wind power project in southwest Alberta has some nearby residents concerned. While some are worried about the environmental affects, others say the project could impact their business. Eloise Therien has more. – Feb 17, 2023

A new proposed wind farm is ruffling some feathers in southern Alberta.

While she sees the value in wind power, Cardston County resident Julia Palmer is taking issue with the suggested location of the Riplinger Wind Power Project.

“There is inherent value in wild spaces and we have far too few intact landscapes left and this is one of them,” Palmer said.

And she’s not alone in her concerns.

More than 50 southern Albertans met on Wednesday ahead of a planned open house with TransAlta Corporation, the company behind the project.

Located approximately 30 kilometres southeast of Pincher Creek, the development would see up to 50 turbines generate about 300 megawatts of power.

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Despite TransAlta having conducted environmental studies, Palmer and others worry about the habitat.

Others, meanwhile, wished there had been more public consultation and advertisement for the project.

Only residents within 1,500 metres of the proposed project boundaries were notified by mail in December 2022.

“I heard about it through word of mouth,” Hill Spring resident William Merrie told Global News. “It’s kind of the consensus around town that there wasn’t a lot of communication from TransAlta.”

Vaughn Smith, who owns a campground in the county, feels the view could be disrupted.

“A transmission line or even some windmills now or in the future in that view, that’s going to be devastating for our business,” he said.

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Largest wind facility in Saskatchewan officially open in Assiniboia

In response to resident concerns, TransAlta sent Global News a statement by email.

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“One of TransAlta core values is sustainability, and environmental impacts are carefully managed and mitigated with any of our projects,” the statement read.

“TransAlta has secured all the lands necessary for the project, completed the suite of environmental studies required by Alberta Environment and Protected Areas, preliminary geotechnical surveys, preliminary engineering, and is on track for submitting an application for Permit & License to the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) in Q2 or Q3 2023.”

An open house was held from 3 to 8 p.m. Friday at the Hill Spring Community Centre.

According to TransAlta, it’s now transitioning from a proposed to “mid-stage” project, in the process of stakeholder engagement and consultation.

“The project is also advancing through the AESO interconnection queue. Construction will not occur until regulatory approval has been granted and would take between 12 and 18 months. It is anticipated that the earliest AUC approval will be granted in 2024 and for the facility to come online in Q4 2025.”

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