This notice was originally published on September 21, 2018, for a 45-day comment period ending November 5, 2018. In response to the feedback received from stakeholders, we updated this proposal and re-opened the comment period for another 45 days. The update provides additional details regarding the criteria proponents would have to meet to be issued a renewable energy approval. The ministry will take all comments, including those we got during the first comment period, into consideration when deciding on next steps.
December 4, 2018
This consultation closes at 11:59 p.m. on:
January 18, 2019
We are proposing to amend the Renewable Energy Approvals Regulation to change who is eligible for a renewable energy approval. The amendment would require a project developer to show there is demand for the electricity they will generate to get a renewable energy approval.
Description of Regulation
Renewable energy in Ontario
In Ontario, you need a renewable energy approval for large wind, solar or bio-energy projects.
The Renewable Energy Approvals Regulation (Ontario Regulation 359/09) outlines criteria for applicants to get a renewable energy approval.
The Independent Electricity System Operator operates the electricity market and directs the operation of the electrical system in the province. Their recent system planning work shows that Ontario has enough electricity resources for the near future.
On July 13, 2018, the Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines directed the Independent Electricity System Operator to wind down 758 renewable energy projects that had not yet reached significant development milestones. They did this as the benefits to ratepayers of winding down the contracts outweighed the associated costs.
The Independent Electricity System Operator is also conducting an electricity market renewal initiative. This initiative:
- should provide market signals for any future investments needed in Ontario’s electricity system
- may include opportunities for renewable energy resources to be purchased in a way that ensures value to Ontario electricity ratepayers and the electricity system.
Renewable energy approvals and the environment
Renewable energy projects (as with all construction and human activity) may impact the environment. Projects could impact:
- natural heritage (e.g.animals, birds, insects, trees, and vegetation)
- surface water.
We require project developers to reduce these effects through the renewable energy approvals process so that the benefits of the energy outweigh the impacts to the environment.
Proposed regulation amendment
This proposal reflects the government's position that because Ontario is in a strong supply situation, renewable energy projects should not proceed unless the project developer can show that there is a demand for the electricity, even where potential impacts are reduced.
This regulatory amendment would affect future renewable energy approval applicants and those whose applications are under review when the regulation comes into force. It would not affect:
- renewable energy approvals that have already been issued unless certain amendments are required, or
- renewable energy projects that do not require a renewable energy approval.
Draft criteria for demonstrating demand
We are proposing that in order to be issued a renewable energy approval, proponents must demonstrate demand by submitting documentation showing that they meet one or more of the following criteria:
- having an agreement to supply electricity to one or more persons. This would include having a contract with the Independent Electricity System Operator;
- proposing to generate the electricity for their own use;
- having a net-metering agreement with their local distribution company;
- proposing to sell the electricity generated at market rates in the Independent Electricity System Operator-administered market.
These criteria would also apply when a project is being changed if there is both
- an increase in the facility’s nameplate capacity, and
- a change to the infrastructure or equipment at the facility.
Demand would need to be shown only for the new capacity.
Purpose of Regulation
This proposal would require a project developer to show that there is a demand for the electricity they will generate in order to get a renewable energy approval.
The proposed approach is consistent with our government's decision to wind down long-term contracts for electricity that the system does not need at this time.
Proposed Green Energy Repeal Act, 2018
The Ministry of Energy, Northern Development and Mines introduced the Green Energy Repeal Act, 2018. If passed, the act would:
- repeal the Green Energy Act, 2009
- make amendments to other existing legislation with the goal of helping consumers lower their energy costs.
If passed, the act would also amend the:
- Environmental Protection Act – to enhance the government’s authority to prohibit issuing renewable energy approvals, including when the demand for the electricity has not been demonstrated
- Planning Act – to restore municipalities’ planning authority related to siting renewable energy generation facilities.
We are consulting on a separate proposal to add further eligibility criteria to the Renewable Energy Approvals Regulation to align with the restoration of municipal authority under the Planning Act
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