In 2021, TransAlta Corporation retained Matrix Solutions to support site selection and environmental assessment and permitting of the WaterCharger Battery Energy Storage System Project in Rocky View County, Alberta. The project is being developed on approximately 3.3 hectares of private land owned by TransAlta that are part of the existing Ghost Hydro-electric facility; and will have a total capacity of 180 megawatts (MW) once fully operational (expected by December 2023).
The project will allow energy generated at the Ghost hydro-electric facility to be stored during periods of low demand and to be dispatched to the electrical grid during periods of higher demand. The Project will provide reliable electricity service to the Alberta electrical grid and support the development of additional renewable energy for Albertans.
Matrix joined the project in the early stages to support selection of candidate sites for a battery energy storage system project and supported TransAlta with the selection of the final project location. Matrix then supported with the environmental assessment and an application to the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC). Our teams undertook the following activities to support TransAlta:
- Constraints mapping and regulatory requirements evaluation.
- Baseline surveys for aquatics, soil, vegetation, wetlands, and wildlife to collect field-based information.
- Preparation of an environmental evaluation report and project-specific environmental protection plan to support the AUC application for the project.
- Supporting environmental questions included in the AUC application and supplemental information requests (SIRs) from the AUC.
The field surveys, reports, and plans were completed to:
- describe the existing (pre-development) conditions for the Project site,
- identify the potential environmental effects of Project construction and operation,
- recommend mitigation measures to reduce or eliminate potential environmental effects due to the project construction and operation activities,
- evaluate the significance of residual effects remaining after mitigation measures have been implemented, and
- recommend monitoring activities during construction and operation to verify the effectiveness of the proposed mitigation and compliance with projectspecific operational monitoring and regulatory compliance requirements.
- The Project was one of the first battery energy storage project applications to be filed under the new AUC Rule 007 requirements. AUC Rule 007 was revised in March 2021 and became effective in September 2021. The previous AUC Rule 007 did not have information requirements for battery energy storage projects.
- There was a tight timeline between the completion of environmental field surveys and filing the AUC application for the Project.
Matrix’s recent experience working on small-scale power plant projects and preparing environmental evaluation reports and environmental protection plans in support of AUC applications allowed for efficient preparation and submission of the required information. Matrix also used our recent experience to develop feasible mitigation measures to reduce or eliminate potential environmental effects due to the Project construction and operation activities