On Jan. 18, Aura Power held an information session about their proposed solar farm north of Drumheller.
The open house was well attended by curious residents of the area, senior town management and town councilors. Aura Power employees were on hand to answer any questions that attendees had.
Victor Beda is the Senior Project Manager for the proposed solar farm. He explained that the project is still in the consultation phase, but, if it passes, it would be a large source of renewable energy.
"In terms of generation capacity, it'll be 75 megawatts AC, which means that it'll consume approximately 400 acres and it will be comprised of approximately 190,000 panels, maybe more."
The proposed farm would be located just north of the airport near the ATCO sub-station. During the consultation process, Beda said that he's heard many concerns from area residents about the project, many of which come from unfamiliarity with solar generation.
"Solar is relatively new at this scale and, of course, in Alberta, there aren't many people who have solar on their rooftop [so] concerns range all over the map," explained Beda. "Some people think it will affect cloud cover. Some people think it will reflect and kill birds. A lot of these things aren't true."
If the project moves forward, it would be a source of employment in the area.
"For this specific site, we expect to probably employ up to 50 people at this site during construction," said Beda. "That will last anywhere from six to eight months."
After construction, Beda explained that the site will still need workers for maintenance and security, but said that those positions would likely be contract positions.