Additional Amendments to O. Reg. 359/09 (Renewable Energy Approvals under Part V.0.1 of the Environmental Protection Act)
O. Reg. 359/09
Regulation - LGIC
Bill or Act:
Environmental Protection Act, R.S.O. 1990
Summary of Decision:
The Renewable Energy Approval (REA) regulation (O. Reg. 359/09) is intended to support the Ontario Government's Green Energy initiative to expand renewable energy generation, encourage energy conservation and promote the creation of clean energy jobs, while upholding our commitment to protecting the environment. The Renewable Energy Approval process is based on clearly communicated complete submission requirements, whereby proponents of renewable energy projects know in advance what studies and reports are expected of them in preparing a complete application for a Renewable Energy Approval.
On March 22, 2012, the Ministry of Energy released the Feed-in Tariff (FIT) Program Two-Year Review Report. The report contained six strategic areas of recommendations, including one to "Streamline Processes and Create Jobs". It recommended that regulatory ministries should reduce duplication, improve service standards and streamline the process and that these changes could shorten the environmental approval process.
On July 1, 2012, regulatory amendments to O. Reg. 359/09 (Renewable Energy Approvals under Part V.0.1 of the Environmental Protection Act) and to Regulation 334 (general regulation under the Environmental Assessment Act) came into effect (decision notice #011-5932). As a result of comments received during the consultation period for the July 1 regulatory amendments, as well as a thorough review and confirmation of over 120 natural heritage assessments by the Ministry of Natural Resources since the regulation came into force in 2009, the Ministry of the Environment (the ministry) proposed additional regulatory amendments to O. Reg. 359/09 to further improve the REA process. Based on the feedback received, the ministry has made further amendments to O. Reg. 359/09.
The amending regulation was filed with the Registrar of Regulations as Ontario Regulation (O. Reg. 333/12) on November 2, 2012. The regulatory amendments come into force on November 2, 2012.
July 23, 2012
Summary of Proposal:
Re-issuance of draft site plans to reflect changes to the location of wind turbines
An amendment is being proposed that would give proponents 18 months to submit an application from the date the draft site plan is originally published but would eliminate the Director's ability to grant an extension of the time within which an application must be submitted. A proponent would not have to consider new receptors for the purposes of the setback prohibitions after the initial notice of the draft site plan was published if the application is made within the 18 month period. This amendment would also permit the issuance of additional draft site plans within the 18 month period in response to issues that are raised during consultation or additional studies. However, it is proposed that going forward, proponents would be required, in addition to giving notice, to make available, along with the draft site plan, a draft of their wind turbine noise assessment report in respect of the proposed turbine layout.
Limitation of the extent to which the commencement of an application for judicial review would have the effect of stopping the clock in respect of a third-party hearing
The Ministry is proposing to amend O. Reg. 359/09 to limit the extent to which the commencement of an application for judicial review would give rise to stopping the clock. This would aim to maintain the streamlined process originally intended for third party hearings in respect to renewable energy projects.
Proposed Natural Heritage Amendments
Five amendments are being proposed to the natural feature protection and assessment sections of the REA regulation. These amendments are based on comments received during the consultation period, as well as meetings with those involved in the renewable energy process, and information received during previous consultation periods associated with Environmental Registry postings. The amendments are supported by the review of over 120 natural heritage assessment reportsby the Ministry of Natural Resources.
1. Reduce natural feature setbacks from 120 metres to 50 metres for the generation components of ground mount solar projects (e.g. panels).
2. Reduce setbacks from 120 metres to 50 metres where there is an expansion of existing infrastructure (e.g. roads and transformer stations) or construction and installation of new transmission or distribution lines.
3. Remove consideration of valleylands as natural features in the regulation (no setback or assessment requirement).
4. Align REA regulation development prohibitions for provincially significant southern and provincially significant coastal wetlands with Provincial Policy Statement direction under the Planning Act for infrastructure by allowing new transmission and distribution lines, and changes to existing infrastructure (e.g. roads, transmission) in these natural features subject to the completion of an environmental impact study.
5. Administrative policies to clarify the site investigation and evaluation of significance requirements of the REA regulation by removing the requirement to identify the function, attributes and composition of a feature during the site investigation.
Ministry of the Environment
Environmental Programs Division
Modernization of Approvals Project
Green Energy Approvals
135 St.Clair Avenue West
Phone: (416) 325-7893
November 2, 2012