Despite being blocked by the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) in a bid to build a massive solar farm in an ecologically sensitive area, Elemental Energy is determined to forge ahead in yet an even more sensitive zone.
The Vancouver-based renewable energy company has repeatedly postured itself as being trustworthy and transparent to Albertans in the company’s quest to profit from the so-called ‘green energy’ fad sweeping across the globe. In a June presentation to the County of St. Paul, EE’s development manager stated:
We believe that there is energy… in the form of wind and the form of solar… and there’s an opportunity to capture that, and to deliver that into the grid, into communities and areas where there’s a demand for electricity. We want to do that by collaborating [and] building trust with all the people we need to do business with.Liam Wolfe, Development Manager of Elemental Energy, Lakeland Today, June 20, 2023
“The key words there are ‘the people we need to do business with’. Apparently, that doesn’t include the families who will be directly impacted,” says Wind Concerns Editor in Chief, Mark Mallett. “None of the residents, aside from the landowners who would profit, were contacted about this project until it was too late to have any meaningful say. That’s how you betray trust — not build it. There are still people in the area who are just learning that Elemental Energy is trying to push this project into a highly populated and ecologically sensitive region.”
In April this year, EE was blocked from building a massive solar farm near High River. The AUC, the regulatory body with the final say on utility projects, concluded:
…the potential for the project to result in high bird mortalities, and the impacts of the project on the Frank Lake IBA and the social and environmental values that it represents are unacceptable.AUC, The Calgary Sun, April 21, 2023
“And yet,” says Mallett, “Elementary Energy apparently hasn’t learned anything from that experience, as they are attempting to build an industrial wind farm in an even more delicate bird sanctuary.”
The Northern Valley south of Elk Point, where EE’s project is planned, is designated by the province as a “Wildlife Sensitivity Zone” bordering the North Saskatchewan River, which is also designated as a “Key Wildlife and Biodiversity Zone.” This is due in part to “sensitive” species such as the Bald Eagle and Sharp-tailed Grouse.
“But it gets worse,” says Mallett. “This is a major migratory path of many species including the endangered Whooping Crane. As it turns it, this rare bird, of which there are less than 600 in the world, uses the Northern Valley as ‘summer grounds‘ before heading south again. New telemetry data shows that these proposed wind turbines would destroy their habitat and interfere with their migratory patterns. That’s a violation of Canadian law.”
According to the federal Species at Risk act:
…no person shall destroy any part of the critical habitat of any listed endangered species or of any listed threatened species.Section 58(1), laws-lois.justice.gc.ca
“But does Elemental Energy even care?” asks Mallett. “You’d think they would since the Principal of Elemental Energy is Jamie Houssian, who is also on the Board of Directors of the Pembina Institute.1 This is the very same ‘thinktank’ that has lamented the possible demise of the Whooping Crane due to the oilsands.2 Either Houssian is serious about his concern for this species, or this is just hypocritical posturing against the oil industry. You decide.”
“All that said, we expect Alberta’s regulatory bodies to send a strong message again to these outside companies that this province’s precious land and resources are not going to be destroyed for profit in the name of ‘saving the planet’.”