Protection of Provincial Interests Through the Green Energy Act
The new approvals framework for renewable energy projects provided through the Green Energy Act reflects the provincial land use interest in energy development articulated in the Provincial Policy Statement (“PPS”) 2005 and in provincial plans, such as the Greenbelt Plan:
- Policy 1.8.3 of the PPS, 2005 directs that renewable energy systems shall be permitted across Ontario – in settlement areas, rural areas and prime agricultural areas – in accordance with provincial and federal requirements (defined term which includes legislation and policies administered by the federal and provincial governments for the purpose of protecting the environment).
- The policies of the Greenbelt Plan and the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan recognize the importance of infrastructure, including energy infrastructure.
For a number of years prior to the GEA, municipalities and others had been asking the Province for assistance in implementing provincial interests related to renewable energy, and for guidance in developing the appropriate technical requirements for these projects - such as setbacks from residential and other land uses.
The Province-led approval framework for renewable energy projects provided through the GEA reflects the provincial interest in renewable energy and responds to requests by municipalities for assistance in implementing this interest. At the same time, it establishes a system with coordinated, transparent and standardized requirements for development which 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.
Provisions and regulations to help implement the Green Energy Act will protect provincial and local interests:
Complete Submission Requirements
By setting out clear pre-submission requirements and a coordinated approvals process, the Ministry of the Environment Renewable Energy Approval (REA) regulation introduces greater certainty for proponents who follow the rules and greater transparency for all interested parties. The complete submission requirements under the REA process eliminate duplicative studies and requirements for various levels of government while still ensuring municipalities and local communities have input in the review process. The Ministry of Natural Resources Approval and Permitting Requirements Document For Renewable Energy Projects sets out requirements for projects on Crown land, as well as requirements related to MNR permits and approvals, where these are required on private lands.
Conditions Attached to REAs
The GEA provides the authority to ensure a broad range of conditions are met, ensuring that renewable energy generation facilities are sited and operated in a manner that is protective of human health and the environment.
Regulation of a range of matters for renewable energy facilities including requirements for notification and consultation, as well as the protection of public safety and the natural environment. Regulation includes minimum setbacks from significant natural heritage and water features, as well as from sensitive receptors such as dwellings.
Further details of the new approvals framework for renewable energy projects, led by the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Natural Resources, can be found by clicking on the appropriate link.