Despite loud opposition to the project, the Alberta Utilities Commission has approved the Brooks Solar II project

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In December a hearing was held in Brooks where residents said they were opposed to the 15 megawatt, 90,000 panel project but did say if it was to be approved they had a number of conditions including screens of vegetation that would be maintained by Elemental Energy, the company owner.

Residents of the Hajash Subdivision have been opposed to the project because the panels, they said during the AUC hearing, will change their views from agriculture to a sea of panels.

Area resident Cathy MacDonald, speaking on behalf of the Hajash Subdivision residents, said she is not surprised by the decision.

“Maybe surprised that they reached a decision so fast. Likely it was already made before our hearing and resigned about it. But of course we’re not happy,” she said.

“I guess there could be worse neighbours than a solar ‘farm’. What it does to property values is yet to be known.”

In their Jan. 16 decision, AUC states the company will ensure the vegetation buffer is developed in consultation with an arborist and the company will ensure the buffer is maintain including watering, pruning and replacing dead trees throughout the plant’s lifespan.

AUC has also directed Elemental to use only panels that have an anti-reflective coating.

“If Elemental determines that it cannot or will not use such panels it shall notify the commission immediately,” states the decision.

The Brooks Solar II project will add 15 megawatts to Elemental’s existing 26.5 MW project along Highway 1 which is immediately west of the new project.

The plant is to be completed by Jan. 31, 2021.

The Bulletin will have more detail in the next edition of The Bulletin.