ABO Wind is proposing the Buffalo Plains wind farm project on 24,000 acres of privately owned farmland near Lomond, Alberta.
The area surrounding Lomond was selected as it is well suited for the development of wind energy due to its large, open agricultural land base, great wind resource, and nearby access to interconnection. Based on our assessments, it is a great location to harness the wind for energy.
November 2019 : Open House on November 28, 2019
An initial open house was held to introduce ABO Wind and the Project to the public in March 2019. Since then, we have been hard at work to take the feedback received and integrate it into our project design, wherever feasible. We are excited to invite you to our second open house to present the updated Project design. The open house will be held at TNT Café, 14 Railway Avenue South, Lomond, Alberta on November 28th from 3:00PM – 8:00PM.
November 2019: 3rd Info Package Sent Out
On November 15th 2019, the second information package was sent out to all stakeholders of the area.
This info package contained the following documents:
Invitation to the Open House on November 28th 2019
Alberta Utilities Commission Brochure
Updated Map of the project site
March 2019 : 2nd Info Package Sent Out
On March 6th 2019, the second information package was sent out to all stakeholders of the area.
This info package contained the following documents:
Invitation to the Open House on March 27th 2019
Alberta Utilities Commission Brochure
Updated Map of the project site
February 2019: Open House on March 27, 2019
Buffalo Plains will hold a series of open houses to consult with local stakeholders and provide information as well as to collect your feedback concerning the project.
You are welcome to attend our first Open House at TNT Café, 14 Railway Avenue South, Lomond, Alberta on March 27th from 3:00PM – 7:00PM
We will have company representatives and experts on hand to discuss the project with you, snacks and beverages will also be available.
December 2018: Meteorological Mast Erected
On December 21st, 2018 Buffalo Plains Wind Farm’s first Meteorological Mast was erected and in operation. This mast will measure the wind speeds and provide data to the developer. The mast stands at 122m (400ft) tall and takes measurements of the wind speed at five heights as well as the wind direction and air temperature.
November 2018: Info Package Sent Out
On November 27th 2018, the first information package was sent out to all residents of the area.
The info package contained the following documents:
The project is completing the following steps: public consultation, environmental impact assessments, wind resource assessments, layout optimization and preliminary project engineering.
Studies to be completed
Wildlife: Birds, Bats and sensitive species
Vegetation: Habitat mapping and endangered species
Wetlands: Mapping and classification
Noise: Impact assessment
Shadow Flicker: Impact assessment
Historical Resource: Archaeological
The project was originally proposed to be as large as 400-500 megawatts (MW), comprising up to 120 total towers, but is now being planned to be around 400 MW in total generation, with the preliminary layout containing 87 total turbines.
The project now has roughly 24,000 acres of privately owned land under long-term option agreement, with eight landowners signed up with the project. Wildlife surveys were conducted from the spring to fall of 2019 and are now complete. A summary report with all of the results will be submitted soon to Government wildlife biologists at Alberta Environment and Parks.
Visual simulations, noise modeling, and a shadow flicker assessment for the preliminary project layout have now all been completed, and the preliminary results will be presented to the public at the upcoming Open House.
Wind Turbines: The Enercon E-160 (4.6 MW) turbine model is being used for preliminary modeling and assessments for the project. This turbine has a hub height of 120 meters and a rotor diameter of 160 meters. Different turbine models are still being evaluated and a final model has not yet been selected for AUC submission. If any aspects of the design change, including turbine model, the public will be notified and consulted.
Collector System: The project will utilize a medium voltage collector system consisting of underground cables that transmit the electricity from the turbines to the project substation.
Access Roads: A road use agreement will be negotiated with Vulcan County to upgrade and utilize existing roads where necessary. Terms of the agreement require that the roads remain in the same, or improved, condition after the completion of the project. Outside of County roads, about 56 kilometers of new roads are also expected to be built on the project site for turbine access.
Other Infrastructure: The project will include a substation to step the voltage up from the collector system voltage to the transmission level voltage. The project will also require an Operations and Maintenance building for the local maintenance staff, which will be located close to the substation.
Interconnection: The project intends to construct a 12-15 kilometers high-voltage transmission line to connect the project substation to the Alberta grid. The project substation is planned to connect to the 356S Milo substation, located north of Lomond in the grazing leases.
Meteorological Tower: Two temporary towers are planned for the development of the project to measure wind speed and direction. After construction, the two towers will be removed and one permanent met tower will be installed to collect long term forecasting data, in compliance with the Alberta Electric System Operator system regulations.
Around 400 MW
87 proposed turbine locations Enercon E-160 4.6 MW 120 meter hub height 160 meter blade rotor diameter
Proprosed project substation will be located on SW-36-16-21-W4
34.5 kV underground collector system accompanied with fibre optic cabling
Existing roads and access points will be used wherever possible. Approximately 55 kilometers of new access roads will be built to service turbines.
Project will be interconnected to the grid through a proposed 12 to 15 kilometer transmission line. The scope and characteristics of the transmission line will be determined in consultation with the Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO).
Approximately 24,000 acres of privately-owned land is under long term agreements for the project.
This information is based on preliminary design and is subject to change.
Land secured with original developer
Land purchased by ABO Wind & Rocky Mountain Power
Stakeholder consultation begins
Additional land secured (land base extended)
First meteorological mast erected
Environmental studies begin
March 27th 2019
First Open House
Entered AESO Queue
Rocky Mountain Power exits project partnership
November 28th 2019
Second Open House
Second meteorological mast erection
Anticipated AUC Application
Anticipated AUC Approval
Anticipated date of construction
Target Commercial Operations Date (COD)
Anticipated decommissioning and reclamation
Schedule is preliminary and is subject to change
Clean Energy Targets
The proposed wind farm comprising up to 87 wind turbine generators will generate enough to supply a city of more than 100,000 homes with clean energy. In addition, the wind farm will help Alberta to reduce emissions and creates new jobs.
ABO Wind is a privately-owned, German-based renewable energy company with projects in over 16 countries worlwide. It was founded in 1996 by two friends Jochen Ahn and Matthias Bockholt and has grown to be one of Europe's leading developers of renewable energy projects with over 1500 MW of installed capacity and annual investments in projects exceeding CAD $450M. The company's business focuses on lanning, financing, and managing winf farms, solar farms, biogas plants, and hybrid energy systems. ABO Wind employs over 550 people around the globe, including six staff based at the North American devlopment office in Calgary. Learn more: www.abo-wind.ca
We are committed to open and transparent consultation with all stakeholders. Last March, 80 people attended our first Open House in Lomond and lots of great questions were asked about the project. A lot of follow up occurred within the community and with local stakeholders. In person meetings have been helds to address stakeholders with outstanding concerns. As a result, noise modeling and a shadow flicker assessment have been completed in addition to visual simulations of the project.
Furthermore, to address questions about the specific project benefits to the community, a Community Vibrancy Fund has been proposed and will ensure value from the project is tied directly to specific initiatives proposed by the community. Finally, a detailed FAQ document with many other information resources about the project and wind farms in general, will be availble at the next Open House and afterwards on the project website.
All stakeholder comments, question and concerns are tracked in a database and will be submitted to the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) as part of a complete Power Plant application. To learn more about the AUCapplication and review process, please visit the AUC's website at www.auc.ab.ca
Creation of up to 300 construction jobs during construction and 10 to 15 permanent local jobs
Supply chain opportunities for local businesses and companies
Contract opportunities during construction and operation including excavation, civil works, snow removal, road maintenance, fencing, and reclamation
Increased local spending on goods and services in the neighboring areas
Road use agreements and upgrades to local road infrastructure
Income and property tax payments made by Buffalo Plains Wind Farm will generate significant tax revenues for the county and provincial government.
Property taxes are expected to amount to more than three million CAD per year.
The proposed wind farm will generate enough power to supply a city of more than 100,000 homes with clean energy.
A Community Vibrancy Fund will be setup prior to the Commercial Operations Date and used to provide and update facilities in the community.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Why did you choose this location for the wind farm?
The area was chosen due to its large open agricultural lands, favourable wind resource, and relatively close access to the bulk transmission system to the north. Consultation meetings with the County, landowners and local community also supported the potential for a viable wind project in the area. It is also important to note that the Government of Alberta, through Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP), has set regulations and guidelines for preferred wind farm site screening, and these guidelines were used to site this wind farm project, as the area meets many of the recommended screening criteria.
How much space will the wind farm take up?
The project covers approximately 14,000 acres of private land. As little as one per cent of total acreage is needed for turbines and access roads. The remaining acreage is free for other uses, such as farming or ranching.
Could you move the wind farm to nearby lower value grazing pasture or crown lands?
The AEP guidelines strongly discourage development on native prairie and grassland pastureland for wind farms due to the much higher environmental and ecological value of such lands. Crown lands across the province do not presently have policy in place for the development of wind farm projects, and therefore no wind farm development is currently allowed.
How is consultation done with the community and how will concerns be addressed?
We are committed to open and transparent consultation with all relevant stakeholders, and in accordance with the regulations for Project consultation outlined by the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) in its Rule 007, Appendix A1. The objective of good consultation is to provide stakeholders with clear and timely information about the Project, and with sufficient opportunity to respond and make inquiries or to offer specific input to guide and update the development process. Feedback is always assessed and reviewed, and a response will always be provided. Where practical and viable for the Project design, changes to Project planning will be implemented based on the feedback received.
In September 2018, some initial consultation was initiated with landowners for the Project. A more formal notification and consultation list was updated and prepared leading up to the first open house, held on March 27th, 2019. The list continues to be vetted and updated and will be used again for future mail outs or invitations leading up to the final open house which is planned to be held before Project application submission to the AUC. All occupants, residents and landowners within 2km of the Project area will be notified by mail of any Project changes or updates, and everyone within 800m will be directly consulted on the final Project plan prior to AUC submission.
Finally, this Project website has been published for the public to get the most up-to-date information as well as submit questions or comments. Project information is regularly updated at this website and is available for all to access.
How will the project benefit the community?
The Project will provide many local community benefits. Firstly, the project will generate over $1 million in annual payments to local farmers and landowners as well as several million a year in local county taxes. These revenues are reinvested locally through business and property investments by landowners and county revenues that offset other budgetary needs, and future tax increases. During the 18 month construction period, hundreds of construction jobs will be generated, and raw materials and labour will be sourced locally whenever possible. Once completed, over a dozen long-term, well-paid jobs will be created for site management and maintenance. Furthermore, a community vibrancy fund will be established to further commit the project to long-term funding of renewable and sustainable initiatives with the local community. Details of the vibrancy fund will be posted to the Project website and finalized prior to construction.
How close will turbines be to the town of Lomond and how is this determined?
The Preliminary layout currently has 5 turbines sited within 2km of the town limits of Lomond, with the closest turbine at roughly 1100m (T-30) from the town limits. The minimum distance for any turbine from the town is determined through compliance of the modelled noise levels from all turbines to the AUC regulations for Project noise, at the nearest dwelling (home) in Lomond.
We will continue to consult closely with all residents in and around the Project, including residents in Lomond, regarding the proximity of turbines to the town. Through the consultation process, layout changes may occur to increase or decrease the distance to the town residences, always being mindful of compliance with AUC regulations and requirements. The residences in the town, and on the nearby farmland, all receive the same assessment and review in regards to noise emission limits from the Project and applicable regulation by the AUC.
Are there potential health effects due to noise from the turbines?
Over the past decade, many studies have been done reviewing the potential for any relation between turbine noise (and more generally, industrial noise) and human health. A number of these studies can be found on the right in the resource section. A recent Health Canada study published in 2014 reviewed health surveys for more than 1200 residents living near wind turbines in PEI and Ontario. The study concluded that no evidence exists to support a direct link between turbine noise and human health. The study is available online via the link on the project website or directly at the following website: www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/environmental-workplace-health/noise/wind-turbine-noise.html.
The research consensus has more broadly concluded that some aspects of wind turbines, such as view and noise, can cause some people to feel a sense of annoyance. This annoyance impact can, in some cases, lead to some generalized health symptoms such as heightened stress and poor sleep. Interestingly, the research shows that annoyance is more directly related to the visual impact of wind turbines, more than to noise. Consultation, careful siting and compliance with noise regulation all mitigate the risk of annoyance to the general public.
It is also worth noting that the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) Rule 012 has developed rigorous noise regulations for industrial energy projects and has reviewed and continuously assessed the regulations for more than a decade. The AUC regulations on noise have been developed specifically to ensure the public’s safety regarding noise emissions from industrial energy facilities. The regulation does not allow cumulative sound pressure levels, measured in decibels (dBA), to exceed 40 dBA at any nearby residence during the night or 50 dBA during the day.
How are visual impacts assessed for the wind farm?
A preliminary layout has been developed and a number of photo simulations from common vantage points around the community have been prepared and are posted to the project website. The visual simulations provide a good reference for the public to assess the visual impact of the Project. There are no current government regulations for visual impact, and turbine layout is generally driven more by wind resource, land constraints (wildlife, bylaws, or land use), and noise and shadow considerations (both regulated by the AUC) as opposed to the more subjective criterion of visual impact.
Q: What happens when the wind farm is no longer in service?
The Project is estimated to have a 20 to 25 year operational life, after which the Project must be decommissioned or refurbished. Decommissioning of the turbines and returning the land use to its prior state is a standard condition of the project approval with the AUC, as well as a contractual obligation with the host landowners. Furthermore, the Project has committed in its leases to post a performance bond or other similar security prior to the start of decommissioning. It is hoped, however, that due to the sustainability of wind resource extraction, there will be a need and economic benefit to keep the project going past its initially proposed life span of 20 to 25 years.
Will the project impact the environment or wildlife?
No large-scale infrastructure project is built without some impact. However, ABO wind intends on minimizing the impact of this wind farm project to the extent possible. In compliance with the Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP) siting guidelines, the preliminary layout generally avoids placing permanent infrastructure (turbines, roads, substation) on any natural grassland or native prairie to mitigate impact on high value environmental features. Maskwa Environmental Consulting, a Calgary based environmental consultant, has conducted a suite of environmental surveys in 2019 and is preparing an Environmental Evaluation for the project area, in consultation with the regional wildlife biologist from AEP. Details of the surveys and timing were provided at the open house and are available on the project website in the open house materials. AEP has proposed setbacks for specific species and land types that are particularly sensitive or at risk. Construction and operational practices and mitigations are reviewed and approved by AEP prior to final AUC review and approval of the project.
Will property value be impacted by the wind farm?
Many studies have been conducted on property sale data in and around wind farms in Canada, the United States, and internationally. The reports demonstrate that data gathered over the past decade consistently show that there is no material impact on home or property sale prices related to proximity to wind turbines. A 2013 study prepared for the US Department of Energy reviewed 50,000 sales in 27 counties across 9 states (including 1198 home sales within 1 mile of a turbine), and concluded that there is no statistical evidence that turbines impact property value. Links to several studies are available in the resource section of the project website.
How will turbine lighting be mitigated?
Transport Canada has legal requirements for wind turbine lighting that must be followed for the safe navigation of aircraft. Transport Canada will be consulted to get agreement to apply the minimum amount of lighting necessary on the turbines. Each project is evaluated for lighting on a case by case basis. For larger projects, not every turbine needs a light. Other possible mitigation of turbine lighting could be done using light shielding so that light is directed upward and not toward the ground where it is not needed. More information on the turbine lighting plan will be provided once the final layout is known and the Transport Canada assessment is received.
What will the impacts on local road use be during construction?
Public roads will be used during construction by heavy machinery and equipment for the delivery of raw materials and building components such as concrete, gravel, and turbine components. Vulcan County will be consulted prior to the start of construction to negotiate a Road Use Agreement (RUA). The RUA will ensure that the roads used during construction will be recorded (by video or photo), monitored during construction and restored (or upgraded) after construction is completed. A traffic management plan will also be developed by the construction team and presented to the County and the community prior to the start of construction, and the plan will outline mitigation measures for traffic through appropriate site speed limits and daily work hours, as well as dust control measures and public notification of the various stages of construction traffic to and from the site.
How does a wind turbine work?
Modern wind turbines have three components: the tower, the rotor consisting of three blades, and the nacelle. The hub transmits the rotational movement of the rotor blades inside the nacelle, where the generator transforms the kinetic energy into electricity. The electricity is transferred through underground cables to a substation where the voltage is stepped up to transmission level voltage. For a more detailed explanation, see this pdf.
What questions do you have about Buffalo Plains Wind Farm? Please do not hesitate to contact us.