In response to the growing public demand for cleaner, sustainable sources of energy, and the proliferation of renewable energy technology improvements, the Green Energy Act was developed by the Government of Ontario to promote and expand the generation of renewable energy in the Province. In addition, Ontario Regulation 359/09 for Renewable Energy Approvals under the Environmental Protection Act was developed to ensure that the new “green” energy does not come at the expense of other adverse impacts to communities and the environment, and to provide a dedicated framework to assess environmental impacts of renewable energy projects that is separate to other infrastructure projects.
When is a Renewable Energy Approval required?
The requirement for an REA is dependent on the type of fuel to be used, and the nameplate power generating capacity of the proposed facility. In short, an REA is required for:
- Wind facilities with a nameplate capacity greater than 3kW
- Ground mounted solar facilities with a nameplate capacity greater than 12 kW; and,
- Facilities defined as anaerobic digestion, biofuel, biogas, or thermal treatment.
Note that facilities not categorized above may be subject to other permitting requirements such as registration with the Environmental Activity and Sector Registry (EASR), municipal building permits under the Building Code Act, or in the case of any waterpower facility, approvals under the Environmental Assessment Act.
Note also that facilities subject to the REA requirements may also require approvals from other ministries and approving bodies such as from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, Ministry of Transportation, Conservation Authority, and Niagara Escarpment Commission.
What are the Submission Requirements of an REA?
While the complete submission package is dependent on the specific project conditions, the following core reports are required for all projects:
- Project Description Report, which includes details regarding fuel, technologies, activities, capacity, ownership, lands used and surrounding lands, and any associated environmental effects;
- Construction Plan Report, which includes details of construction activities, timing and duration, associated environmental effects on the subject lands and surrounding lands, and mitigation measures for negative environmental effects;
- Consultation Report, which includes summaries of communications with affected communities including members of the public, Aboriginal communities, municipalities, and local roads and services boards, evidence that required distribution of information was completed, and information provided by communities in response;
- Design and Operations Report, which includes a site plan, conceptual plans and specifications, environmental effects monitoring plan and response plan, and shoreline protection measures;
- Decommissioning Plan Report, which includes procedures for dismantling the facility, land and water restoration, and materials and waste management; and,
- Technical reports as required based on the type of facility.
Additional site specific studies may also be required, such as impacts to archeological and heritage resources or natural heritage features.