On Tuesday August 2, the Ontario Minister of Energy announced three changes to development processes for renewable energy projects with the goals of providing increased stability and predictability to project development.

The first is the issuance on August 2, 2011 of a Ministerial directive to the OPA requiring the OPA to allow FIT contract holders to elect to obtain a waiver of the OPA’s termination rights contemplated under Section 2.4(a) of the FIT Contract, provided the Supplier can meet specified conditions. The conditions vary for CAE and non-CAE projects. In general terms, developers who are able to demonstrate a completed Domestic Content Plan and a manufacturing equipment agreement will now be able to request a waiver of the Ontario Power Authority’s termination rights included in the Notice to Proceed provisions of Feed in Tariff contracts. The Supplier must satisfy these conditions by December 31, 2011. Projects will still be required to submit a financing plan, connection impact assessment and obtain all regulatory approvals before proceeding to the construction of their project.  

The second change relates to proposed improvements to the Renewable Energy Approvals (REA) process that will provide greater certainty for project developers. Specifically, today the Ministry of the Environment announced additional guidelines for the REA process, including the draft REA Aboriginal Consultation Guide to assist renewable energy project applicants with the requirements for consultation with First Nations. The draft REA Aboriginal Guide also explains how the regulatory requirements relate to the Crown’s duty to consult with Aboriginal communities in respect of renewable energy projects. The Draft REA Aboriginal Guide will be posted on the EBR for 90 days for review and comment.

The third development, based on recent consultations with industry stakeholders, the Ministry of Finance has proposed new rules to provide greater clarity and stability to the property tax assessment of renewable energy projects. The Ministry of Finance has proposed changes to Regulation 282/98 that establishes greater clarity by creating additional categories for assessment based on the size and location of the proposed wind, solar, or anaerobic digestion generation project. The draft regulation is posted on the Ontario Regulatory Registry and will be open to review and comment until August 29, 2011.