Solar Farm

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Illustration of a solar farm sitting on grass with the sun shining and a tree next to the panels.


What is the solar farm project and why is it being proposed?

The City of St. Albert has proposed building a solar farm to provide a sustainable source of power for our community, generate revenue, and undertake an environmentally friendly project on the City-owned Badger Lands which are less suitable for other purposes.

To minimize tax increases and maintain existing services, we need to identify new, non-taxation sources of revenue to generate approximately $6 million a year. If we don’t, we may need to consider significant annual increases in taxes (an estimated five per cent) in order to continue to provide the programs, services and amenities our residents enjoy.

A solar farm might be one way to generate new revenues or reduce City expenses.

How and when will this decision be made?

View Larger ImageEach phase of this project is presented to Council to determine whether or not to proceed to the next. The next presentation to Council (phase 3 of 5) will be on July 13, 2022.

Multiple factors will influence Council decision-making, including public input - which is why we want to hear from residents.

The diagram shown highlights the various considerations that inform the decision-making process.

Want to learn more?

Hear from Regan Lefebvre, Senior Manager, Utilities, in the following video:

You can find more background information, in the right hand column of this page, under the headings "Important Links" and "Additional Documents."

Have input?

We want to hear from you including any questions you might have.

Please complete the survey below which is available until May 15, 2022. Results will be provided to Council in advance of the July 13, 2022 presentation.

The City of St. Albert understands that residents have questions about the proposed solar farm project and what it means for their city as the project moves forward. You can also submit any questions you have, and we will do our best to answer them.


What is the solar farm project and why is it being proposed?

The City of St. Albert has proposed building a solar farm to provide a sustainable source of power for our community, generate revenue, and undertake an environmentally friendly project on the City-owned Badger Lands which are less suitable for other purposes.

To minimize tax increases and maintain existing services, we need to identify new, non-taxation sources of revenue to generate approximately $6 million a year. If we don’t, we may need to consider significant annual increases in taxes (an estimated five per cent) in order to continue to provide the programs, services and amenities our residents enjoy.

A solar farm might be one way to generate new revenues or reduce City expenses.

How and when will this decision be made?

View Larger ImageEach phase of this project is presented to Council to determine whether or not to proceed to the next. The next presentation to Council (phase 3 of 5) will be on July 13, 2022.

Multiple factors will influence Council decision-making, including public input - which is why we want to hear from residents.

The diagram shown highlights the various considerations that inform the decision-making process.

Want to learn more?

Hear from Regan Lefebvre, Senior Manager, Utilities, in the following video:

You can find more background information, in the right hand column of this page, under the headings "Important Links" and "Additional Documents."

Have input?

We want to hear from you including any questions you might have.

Please complete the survey below which is available until May 15, 2022. Results will be provided to Council in advance of the July 13, 2022 presentation.

The City of St. Albert understands that residents have questions about the proposed solar farm project and what it means for their city as the project moves forward. You can also submit any questions you have, and we will do our best to answer them.

CLOSED: This discussion has concluded.

If you have any questions regarding the solar farm, please write them here. 

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    Can the solar panels not be placed over an open air structure which could be utilizes as a covered area for the weekly farmers market? Booths then would have a more permanent setup, would be somewhat sheltered from the weather, and parking less of a problem.

    gmacdd asked 18 days ago

    Thank you for the feedback. Currently, something similar that is becoming more common is covered parking areas that incorporate solar panels. The initial capital costs would be higher, as a much more substantial foundation structure for the solar panels in addition to an all-weather surface for parking. There would also be an increased risk of vandalism because the area would be more accessible to the public.

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    I think solar is a great energy alternative. Will this solar farm, allow residents to purchase solar panels for homes?

    Deb asked 12 days ago

    Thank you for sharing your feedback. This proposed solar farm project does not include the option for residents to purchase solar panels for their homes. However, we invite you to keep an eye on our Home Energy Efficiency Programs page: https://stalbert.ca/city/environment/energy-conservation/programs/ where we'll be launching a Clean Energy Improvement Program and Home Energy Efficiency Grant in the fall which may allow you to explore this option for your home.

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    Will or has the total costs of the solar farm including handling and deposing of burned out solar panels been included in over all expenditures so as to determine that going forward with the project will guarantee a plus figure , making the project totally viable to off set tax increases?

    Rod G asked 18 days ago

    Demolition and disposal costs have been included in the economic analysis.

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    Are there any plans to manage glare off the solar panels? Are they fixed or tracking?

    A1048 asked 19 days ago

    A Glare Impact Assessment will be completed as part of the submission process for the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) as per the AUC guidelines. Glare levels are expected to be low based on AUC submissions for similar solar farm in Alberta.

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    Will the solar farm create any ambient noise? What means will be taken to manage any noise generated? Is a noise survey planned? Will the results be available?

    A1048 asked 19 days ago

    A Noise Impact Assessment will be completed as part of the submission process for the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) as per the AUC guidelines. Noise levels are anticipated to be low based on AUC submissions for similar solar farms in Alberta.

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    What is the drainage plan for the site? Where will any drainage be directed? To local ponds? To sewer? As this is brownfield site, how will runoff be managed to prevent leaching of contaminants off site?

    A1048 asked 19 days ago

    The site naturally drains towards Carrot Creek, Big Lake and the Sturgeon River. The engineered drainage plan is part of the ongoing 60 per cent design. It is expected that the engineered drainage plan for the site will be similar to the natural drainage and is expected to have a negligible impact from salt within the ground. The salinity of runoff from the site will be monitored.

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    How much is the project costing? Are we utilizing local contractors? Warranty on panels? How are the solar panels recycled? Where are we buying the solar panels from? Which infrastructures are going to benefit from the solar farm? How much tax payers money is this going to cost us over the years?

    GM asked 19 days ago

    At the 30 per cent design stage the estimated costs was $26M. The method of contractor selection has not yet been determined and is likely to be open tender process to ensure that we are receiving the best pricing for experienced contractors. The solar panel recycling industry is in its infancy with first-generation solar panels just reaching the end of their life expectancy. As the industry grows we look forward to seeing it positively impact the environment and create new, green jobs supporting renewable energy. In 25 or 30 years, when the panels from the proposed solar farm reach the end of their lift expectancy, better opportunities to recycle the glass, silicon and aluminum are anticipated.  If the option to recycle the solar panels becomes an option this would be the City's preferred method.  However, as this is not something that we can be sure of at this time, disposal costs have been included in the City's economic analysis to send the solar panels to a landfill. No tax increase is expected as a result of the solar farm.

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    Have you considered using equipment not manufactured in China? The 30% design included Longi modules which is China's #1 Solar company. Has the massive changes to the project cost due to material escalation been accounted for? I'm in the solar industry and we've seen at least a 30% increase in materials in 2022 alone.

    Specialk asked 22 days ago

    Current cost estimates are based on the 30 per cent design which was completed in 2021. Revised cost estimates are expected with the 60 per cent design which is ongoing. Longi has been considered as the default supplier for design and cost estimating purposes.  

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    We are already the highest taxed properties in the greater Edmonton area, how much more will this cost us? Has there been a solution yet, as to how to recycle all the used panels and batteries when they are no longer serviceable?

    Mike66 asked about 1 month ago

    No tax increase is expected as a result of the proposed solar farm project. 

    The solar panel recycling industry is in its infancy with first-generation solar panels are just starting to reach the end of their life expectancy. As this industry grows we look forward to seeing it positively impact the environment and create new, green jobs supporting renewable energy. In 25 to 30 years, when the panels from the proposed solar farm reach the end of its life expectancy, better opportunities to recycle the glass, silicon and aluminum are anticipated. If the option to recycle the solar panels becomes an option this would be the City's preferred method. However, as this is not something that we can be sure of at this time, disposal costs have been included in the City's economic analysis to send the solar panels to a landfill. 

    Additionally, no batteries are included in the plans for the St. Albert Solar Farm project.

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    1. The assumptions do not include any replacement cost for solar modules that could fail before end-of-life of the facility. Inverter replacement is included. Are we expecting zero failures? 2. I am surprised that we are in what is called "detailed design" but are still evaluating options. Are we completing Phase 3 to 60% engineering? Is Phase 4 actually completion of engineering? 3. If we compare the net proceeds from the farm to what is paid for the City's power consumption of 18 MWh, are we actually money ahead? 4. Eventually Ray Gibbon will be along the west side of the site. In the winter there will be (salty) spray from traffic drifting over the panels. Has winter cleaning or performance degradation been considered due to this? 5. Will the final design allow for expansion? 6. It would be helpful to post expected revenue and project cost numbers as developed so far. I know they are probably +-50% right now. 7. What happens if the whole project fails after construction? How will this be paid for? The project cost is about 21% of our tax levy. 8. If we increase the sales and users fees by only 10%, we can generate $6M more revenue. 9. The presentation slide decks should be posted for viewing.

    Laurence asked about 1 month ago
    1. While degradation of solar panels is expected (about 0.5 per cent per year), our understanding is that premature failure of solar panels is rare. The City is planning to include an allowance for a few shelf spares as part of the initial capital budget. Additionally, we will have an initial warranty and plan to include insurance for severe weather damage - at least until the initial project costs are completely paid down. 
    2. We are currently completing the 60 per cent design and the consideration of options is not uncommon at this stage.  
    3. It is not possible to predict the price that the City will pay for electricity for the next 30 to 45 years.  However, self-consumption (municipal own-use generation) eliminates retail mark-up as well as the requirement to pay provincial and federal taxes on the sale of electricity.  
    4. Winter maintenance has been considered. The impact of salt from Ray Gibbon Drive or Fowler Way is not expected to be a major issue for panels, racks, foundations and components that are designed to operate in harsh conditions. 
    5. Expansion is not included, however, it is possible that the solar farm could be staged. Overall the economics of staging the construction is not as attractive because separate applications would be required with the provincial regulators and wires provider (Fortis). The City would have to purchase additional land (part of what makes the economics favourable is the fact that the City already owns this land). 
    6. We are planning to share these details as they become available. 
    7. If such a failure is the result of manufacturing, it would be covered by warranty. If such a failure is the result of construction, it will be the City's responsibility to hold the contractor or engineering consultant liable. The project cost is not expected to increase taxes because with debt financing the offsetting revenue.  
    8. The price of electricity and the environmental attributes are important to the economic analysis. 
    9. Thank you for this suggestion. We will consider adding these to the website. Additionally, you can view all presentations to City Council on the proposed solar farm by viewing the “Important Links” section on the left hand side of the project page or by visiting: https://stalbert.ca/city/solarfarm/presentations/ 
Page last updated: 18 May 2022, 03:19 PM