Renewable energy operators have new rules to follow in Alberta.

The UCP government placed a moratorium on new renewable energy project approvals last year because of concerns about lost agricultural land.

Premier Danielle Smith and Utilities Minister Nathan Neudorf have announced an "agriculture first" approach when evaluating the best use of agricultural lands proposed for these types of developments.

"Alberta has led the country in renewable energy investment, and we will continue to lead the country. At the same time, we must grow our renewable energy industry in well-defined and responsible ways. The past months have enabled us to do the work that we need to do to ensure that the standards we have in place serve Albertans best while continuing to guarantee the affordability and reliability of our electricity grid," says Premier Danielle Smith.

Reclamation costs will be the responsibility of the project developers through a bond or security.

And, municipalities will automatically have the right to take part in Alberta Utilities Commission hearings.

"We believe this announcement is a very balanced and thoughtful approach to long-term sustainable renewable development in Alberta. We greatly appreciate the province and Minister Neudorf’s willingness to listen to concerns brought forward by our residents and feel the policy changes being announced will help create ‘win-win’ opportunities for our municipality, our residents, and for developers. Wind and solar has become a very large part of Vulcan County, and we look forward to seeing what the future holds," says Jason Schneider, Reeve, Vulcan County.

Buffer zones of a minimum of 35 kilometres will be established around protected areas and other "pristine viewscapes" as designated by the province.