Early Access to Land for Environmental Studies on Transmission Projects
Bill or Act:
Ontario Energy Board Act, 1998
Summary of Decision:
The government has made changes to the OEB Act, 1998 to give the OEB the authority to grant, under specific circumstances, earlier access to land to electricity transmission project proponents for the purpose of conducting preliminary environmental studies prior to applying for Leave to Construct.
Analysis of Regulatory Impact:
March 2, 2020
Summary of Proposal:
As the regulator for electricity in Ontario, the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) evaluates applications from electricity transmission project proponents. This is in order to determine whether a proposed project is in the public interest. If so, the Board issues a Leave to Construct approval to the proponent.
Before applying for Leave to Construct, proponents of electricity transmission projects must complete project development and Environmental Assessment (EA) work in order to identify a preferred project route. The completion of environmental and other studies (for example, archaeological or wildlife and habitat studies) to support EA requires proponents to have access to land within their study area. This allows the proponent to gather better data to inform the identification of the optimal routing options for the project.
Electricity transmission project proponents can apply to the OEB for access to land to make surveys and examinations as necessary to fix the site of a proposed project. Currently, these applications can only be made once the proponent has applied for Leave to Construct. ENDM proposes to create a mechanism allowing the OEB to grant earlier access to land to transmission project proponents for the purpose of conducting environmental studies to support more efficient and higher quality EA and project development. If approved, the mechanism is anticipated to:
• Allow proponents to apply to the OEB for earlier access to land; and
• Set out requirements proponents must meet when applying for early access to land;
• It is intended that the OEB's process for considering applications for early access to land will allow for input from affected landowners and that the OEB can attach conditions to a grant of access with which the proponent must comply.
This proposal will help to create a more streamlined, efficient EA process by reducing the logistical challenges faced by electricity transmission project proponents in gaining early access to land, while balancing proponent needs with the interests of landowners. The policy would, if approved, also increase the quality of environmental information used in EA work by facilitating direct field study. The environmental impact of these amendments is therefore expected to be positive.
January 27, 2021