SARM President weighs in on Alberta pausing approval of renewable energy projects

The President of the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities is keeping tabs on Alberta’s announcement of pausing renewable energy projects.

Alberta premier Danielle Smith claims the pause was made after the Alberta Utilities Commission and the Alberta Electric System Operator asked for it in a letter sent to the government in July.

However neither entity asked for a moratorium. Instead the Utilities Commission said they needed help to address a high number of renewable and thermal power applications as well as development on high-value agricultural land and how to reclaim them once work is completed.

The Alberta Electric System Operator simply thanked the government for informing them that the government was planning to impose a moratorium.

“It drew my attention,” Ray Orb said. “I think it’s something we’re taking note of.”

“I don’t think we have that many projects in Saskatchewan that are taking up agriculture land, but it’s something we have a concern about. I’ll be honest, I think that if too much land is taken out of production in this province it’s not going to bode well for the provincial economy.”

Orb says the issue could be on the agenda at the mid-term convention in November or annual convention in March, but for now it’s something “members haven’t flagged yet.”

Orb is aware of at least one Rural Municipality taking on a renewable project – the R.M. of Lake of the Rivers No. 72 in the Assiniboia area – where the Golden South Wind Project is located. It consists of 50 turbines, including 46 within the R.M. boundaries, according to its website. He is aware of another project being proposed in the Kipling area but hasn’t heard anything from local R.M.s.

Orb believes SARM members are not against green energy, but doing it at the expense of using valuable agricultural land is one concern, another is taxation.

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