PPA with Shell Energy
The Hand Hills Wind Facility is located over 12,000 acres of privately owned land in both Starland County and Special Areas 2, approximately 28 km northeast of Drumheller, near Delia, Alberta.
With decades of experience, we have a team of internal experts to take projects from conception and make them a reality. Our team works in close consultation with government agencies and key stakeholders to site, build and operate our facilities responsibly. To learn more about our approach to project development, click here.
Development work began on this project in 2007, and both wind data and environmental data has been continuously collected since then.
In February 2020, BluEarth submitted our updated Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) amendment application for the 130 MW Hand Hills Wind Project. This application summarized our environmental field surveys, mitigation strategies, and overall approach to construct and operate the Project responsibly. In December 2020, the AUC approved the amended project and issued a new permit and license. In October 2021, we submitted a Letter of Enquiry to the AUC to update the turbine model, increase the project capacity from 130 MW to 145 MW and notify the AUC of minor alternations to the project layout. This was approved in November 2021.
In April 2021, BluEarth Renewables, through its subsidiary, BER Hand Hills Wind LP, signed a long-term Power Purchase Agreement with Shell Energy North America (Canada), Inc. Read the full release here.
Civil construction began in October 2021 including civil works and road installations. Work was paused over the winter and continued again in April 2022. Wind turbine installation began in September 2022 and construction was completed in mid 2023.
- Map of the AUC Approved Route
- Decision Report 27008-D01-2022
- Decision Report Appendix 1
- Decision Report Appendix 2
- Newsletter 2 – Preferred and Alternate Routes (August 2021)
- Newsletter – Potential Routes (June 2021)
- Preferred and Alternate route overview map (August 2021)
- Detailed preferred and alternate route Project maps (August 2021)
- Project interconnection map (May 2021)
- Potential routes overview map (June 2021)
- Detailed Project maps (June 2021)
Information regarding electric and magnetic fields
- Site Layout (April 2022)
- Site Layout (September 2021)
- Preliminary Site Layout (May 2020)
- Preliminary Site Layout (November 2018)
- Preliminary Site Layout (May 2017)
- Noise Receptor Map
- Noise Impact Assessment Report (2020)
- Noise Impact Assessment Report (2021)
- Shadow Flicker Assessment
- Shadow Flicker Update (2021)
Frequently Asked Questions
The Hand Hills Wind Project will benefit the local economy with 175 jobs at peak construction or 225,000 person hours of employment, four to five full time Operation & Maintenance Technician positions, indirect revenue to the local municipality in the form of local services and supplies, and an estimated average tax revenue of over $2,000,000 per year over the life of the project. Wind projects provide stable income to local farmers and landowners from land lease agreements and allow farming up to the base of the turbine gravel pad, leading to increased diversification of local landowner income.
No. This project is being developed by BluEarth Renewables, a privately-owned company and will not require any tax dollars or government subsidies.
In addition, once the Hand Hills Wind Project is operational, the project will contribute significant tax dollars to the two rural municipalities where the Project is located.
The project is located on cultivated lands to minimize the environmental impact. In addition, wind turbines occupy a small fraction of the land on which they are sited, so they work in harmony with existing and established land uses. Many of the activities that occurred on the land before a wind facility was built can continue undisturbed after construction is completed. For example, crops can be planted right up to the base of the turbines and harvested with typical farming equipment. Livestock, such as sheep, cows and horses, can continue to graze around the towers.
A turbine foundation is approximately 3.5 – 5.0 metres deep (depending on soil conditions) and can contain approximately 500 – 600 cubic metres of concrete.
The most comprehensive study on wind facilities and property values to-date was conducted by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The study analyzed more than 50,000 home sales near 67 wind facilities across nine U.S. states over ten years and found no statistical evidence that operating wind facilities have had any measurable impacts on home sale prices.
Below are studies on the relationship between wind facilities and property value:
- Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory: A Spatial Hedonic Analysis of the Effects of Wind Energy Facilities on Surrounding Property Values in the United States
- Canadian Journal of Agricultural Economics: The Effects of Wind Turbines on Property Values in Ontario: Does Public Perception Match Empirical Evidence?
- Journal of Real Estate Research: Wind Energy Facilities and Residential Properties: The Effect of Proximity and View on Sales Prices
No. TV and internet signals are now primarily digital and will not be impacted by this project.
Similar to a communication tower, Transport Canada has lighting criteria for any tall structure to ensure aircraft remain safe during low lighting conditions, which we will be required to obey. As a result, some turbines will be required to have navigation lights. The number of lights will be determined by Transport Canada based on the final layout and design.
The noise emissions produced by a wind turbine vary depending on the model and size. However, all wind projects must meet the applicable Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) regulatory requirements for noise control, of 40dBA at night time. We complete detailed noise modelling to ensure the Project is below AUC sound level requirements at all residences.
The global wind industry collectively continues to engage with experts in science, medicine and occupational and environmental health to monitor ongoing credible research in the area of wind turbines and human health (CanWEA, 2018). Health Canada published its own study in 2014, which found that wind turbine noise exposure was not associated with self-reported medical illnesses and health conditions.
We understand some individuals have concerns about wind facility construction and operation and we take these concerns seriously. The Hand Hills Wind Project has been designed to meet or exceed all provincial regulations and guidelines in place to protect human health.
Below are studies on the relationship between wind turbines and human health:
- Health Canada: Wind Turbine Noise and Health Study: Summary of Results
- Journal of Occupations and Environmental Medicine: Wind Turbines and Health: A Critical Review of the Scientific Literature
Wind turbines occupy a small fraction of the land on which they are sited, so they work in harmony with existing and established land uses. In rural settings, farming and ranching continue undisturbed. Livestock, such as sheep, cows and horses, can continue to graze around the towers. In fact, wind energy helps create a healthier environment by not emitting greenhouse gases or air pollutants, and using no freshwater to generate electricity.
As a prerequisite to receiving an Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) permit, and to update our knowledge of the environmental conditions at the site, we have conducted various environmental studies. Completed studies have assessed:
- Spring and Fall Bird Migration
- Spring and Fall Bat Migration
- Breeding Birds
- Nesting Raptors
- Sensitive Species (e.g., Sharp-tailed Grouse, Burrowing Owl and Amphibians)
- Listed Plants
- Habitat Mapping
- Noise Impact Assessment
The results of these environmental surveys were provided to Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP) for their review and comment. We have been working with the AEP to implement their recommendations and to inform the development of the updated project layout.
We will continue to conduct additional environmental surveys and ensure all studies are kept up to date, as required by applicable legislation. As a standard requirement of an Alberta Utilities Commission permit, we will also be completing three years of post-construction monitoring to ensure our predicted results match collected data.
The relationship between birds, bats and wind turbines has been extensively studied in Canada, North America, and worldwide over the last several decades, and is well understood. Wind energy projects, such as Hand Hills, have a low impact on birds and bats when properly sited.
We have conducted thorough environmental studies during the development of this project, and we have committed to conducting additional pre-construction wildlife surveys to inform final design and construction planning. We have also worked closely with Alberta Environment and Parks to site the wind turbines and access roads, and we will be seeking their consent for the revised project layout.
Below is a study on the relationship between wind turbines and bats:
- Canadian Wind Energy Association: Wind Energy and Bat Conservation Review
Wind facilities are an important investment in the Canadian electricity grid and provide clean, renewable energy for several decades, typically 20 to 30 years. Once a wind facility reaches the end of its life cycle, consideration is given to either decommission or repower the facility.
- Repowering means to replace or upgrade the equipment with more advanced and efficient technology. This would be completed at the facility owner’s (BluEarth’s) expense and would result in an additional 10 to 30 years of useful life for the equipment.
- Decommissioning means to cease production and dismantle the facility. In many cases, the metal and electrical parts can be recycled or sold as scrap due to their high value.
As part of the AUC Power Plant Approval for the Hand Hills Wind Project, BluEarth is committed to decommissioning all project components and to reclaim and restore any disturbed areas at the end of the project life.