On February 23, 2009, the Ontario Government introduced Bill 150, the Green Energy and Green Economy Act, 2009 (“Bill 150”).
Bill 150 represents a departure from the way in which renewable energy projects have been governed in Ontario to date. If enacted, Bill 150 will amend twenty-one statutes with the purpose of streamlining approvals and increasing investment for renewable energy projects as well as promoting conservation, energy efficiency, and the growth of a “green economy.”
Under Bill 150, “renewable energy sources” will include wind (onshore and offshore), hydro, biomass, biogas, biofuel, solar, geothermal, and tidal projects. Bill 150 also leaves open the possibility of expanding the definition of renewable energy sources further by regulation.
Key amendments of Bill 150 include:
- Significant amendments to the electricity sector, including the creation of a feed-in tariff regime, implementation of a “Smart Grid”, and certain guaranteed connections to the grid.
- Streamlining the approval process to provide a one-stop shop for renewable energy projects. Eligible projects will be issued one “renewable energy approval” within six months of submitting all documentation instead of the various listed approvals currently required.
- Elimination of a severance consent for land leased for a period of less than 40 years for a renewable energy generation facility or project under Ontario’s Planning Act. Official plans as well as certain orders, agreements, and by-laws (including site plan approval, minor variances, zoning by-laws and demolition control) will not apply to a renewable energy generation facility or project.
- Opportunities for municipalities to generate electricity through a municipal corporation, a municipal service board, a city board, or a municipal service corporation if the renewable facility does not exceed 10 megawatts or as prescribed by regulation.
- Amendments to Ontario’s Building Code to include energy conservation.
- New energy efficiency standards for public sector buildings and prescribed household appliances and products. Energy audits may also be required prior to housing sales.
- Opportunities (including potential funding) for Aboriginal communities to build, own, and operate renewable energy projects.
Bill 150 received second reading in the Ontario Legislature on March 11, 2009 and is currently undergoing committee review. Important details relating to the implementation of Bill 150’s stated objectives will likely be covered in regulations that have yet to be released.