Need for Change
The Green Energy Act is a bold series of coordinated actions to enhance economic activity, reduce our impact on the climate, and set Ontario on a course to a greener future.
Before the GEA, most renewable energy developments generally required multiple land use planning and environmental approvals from local governments and the Ontario Government. In many cases, this was in addition to approvals needed from the federal government, and from other government bodies and agencies.
This led to a number of challenges for the energy industry, relating to potential overlap and duplication between processes, the timelines required to develop new green energy projects and varying requirements and standards for energy development in different areas of Ontario.
Some municipalities had been asking the Province to provide guidance for renewable energy projects in areas such as the appropriate setbacks of projects from other land uses.
The GEA addresses industry and municipal concerns by providing a more coordinated and updated process, clear guidance for technical standards and by establishing service guarantees for turnaround of approvals.
The GEA responds to industry and municipal challenges by establishing a new framework for the approval and facilitation of green energy development in Ontario. The GEA and its implementing regulations:
- provide a standardized, Province-led approvals framework for renewable energy;
- coordinate and remove duplication between provincial and local processes by combining environmental and land use planning considerations into one process;
- provide standardized technical requirements for renewable energy projects across Ontario; and
- establish the Renewable Energy Facilitation Office which provides assistance and acts as a resource to industry, community and Aboriginal proponents in navigating the approvals process.
As a result of the new framework established through the GEA and related regulations, generally, the environmental assessment and municipal land use planning (Planning Act) systems do not apply to renewable energy projects.
While providing a coordinated and transparent system, with clear requirements and consistent technical standards, the GEA continues to: safeguard our natural environment and important resources, ensure strong protection for health and safety of Ontarians, and provide for a meaningful dialogue with municipalities and communities.