Today, the Ontario Government introduced Bill 150, the Green Energy Act, 2009 (GEA). The GEA will introduce legislation that is intended to attract new investment, create new green economy jobs and better protect the environment. If passed, it is anticipated that the GEA would create 50,000 jobs in the first three years.
The GEA affects the following 21 Acts.
- Building Code Act, 1992;
- Clean Water Act, 2006;
- Conservation Land Act;
- Electricity Act, 1998;
- Energy Efficiency Act;
- Environmental Protection Act;
- Ministry of Energy Act;
- Niagara Escarpment Planning and Development Act;
- Ontario Water Resources Act;
- Planning Act;
- Public Lands Act.
- Cabinet Ministers' and Opposition Leaders'
- Expenses Review and Accountability Act, 2002;
- Conservation Authorities Act;
- Co-operative Corporations Act;
- Energy Conservation Leadership Act, 2006;
- Environmental Bill of Rights, 1993;
- Greenbelt Act, 2005;
- Ministry of Natural Resources Act;
- Ontario Energy Board Act, 1998;
- Places to Grow Act, 2005;
- Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserves Act, 2006; and
The government notes that the GEA is a series of coordinated action with two thrusts:
- Making it easier to bring renewable energy projects to life; and
- Fostering a culture of conservation by assisting homeowners, governments, schools and industrial employers to transition to lower energy use.
The following are some of the highlights of the GEA:
- The Lieutenant Governor in Council will be authorized to designate goods, services and technologies by regulation in order to promote energy conservation. A person will be permitted to use designated goods, services and technologies in prescribed circumstances despite a restriction imposed at law that would prevent or restrict their use. This does not, however, apply to a restriction imposed by an act or regulation;
- The Lieutenant Governor in Council will be permitted to designate renewable energy projects or renewable energy sources by regulation to assist in the removal of barriers to and to promote opportunities for the use of renewable energy sources and to promote access to transmission systems and distribution systems for proponents of renewable energy projects;
- The Lieutenant Governor in Council will be authorized, by regulation, to require public agencies and prescribed consumers to establish energy conservation and demand management plans;
- The Minister of Energy will be authorized to enter into agreements to promote energy conservation and energy efficiency; and
- The GEA will establish the Renewable Energy Facilitation Office and will permit the designation of a Renewable Energy Facilitator. The objects of the Office will include facilitating the development of renewable energy projects.
Highlights of the amendments to the Electricity Act, 1998, included in the GEA are:
- The repeal of the Conservation Bureau within the Ontario Power Authority (OPA). Additionally, amendments to the Environmental Bill of Rights will require that the Commissioner under that Act make annual reports on energy conservation;
- The Minister will be provided with additional authority to issue directions to the OPA to undertake a request for proposal, any other form or procurement solicitation or any other initiative that relates to the procurement of electricity supply and capacity, including supply and capacity from renewable energy sources, reductions in electricity demand or measures related to conservation or the management of electricity demand;
- The Minister will be permitted to direct the OPA to develop a feed-in tariff program. A "feed-in tariff program" is a program for procurement that provides standard program rules, standard contracts and standard pricing regarding classes of generation facilities differentiated by energy source or fuel type, generator capacity and the manner by which the generation facility is used, deployed, installed or located;
- Transmitters and distributors will be required to connect generation facilities to their transmission or distributions systems if certain specified criteria are satisfied;
- Distributors, transmitters, the OPA and the Independent Electricity System Operator will be required to provide prescribed information about the distribution or transmission system's ability to accommodate generation from a renewable energy generation facility. Transmitters and distributors will also be required to provide priority access to their systems for renewable energy generation facilities that meet prescribed requirements; and
- The Lieutenant Governor in Counsel will be given the power to make regulations governing the smart grid and its implementation.
Highlights of the amendments to the Ontario Energy Board Act, 1998 include:
- With respect to electricity, the Board's objectives will be amended to include the promotion of the conservation of electricity, the facilitation of investments to implement a smart grid and the promotion of the use and generation of electricity from renewable energy sources. Similarly, the Board's objectives with respect to gas will be amended to include the promotion of energy conservation and energy efficiency;
- This Minister, with the approval of the Lieutenant Governor in Council, will be permitted to issue directives to the Board relating to the establishment, implementation or promotion of a smart grid for Ontario. Similarly, with the approval of the Lieutenant Governor in Council, the Minister will be permitted to issue directives requiring the Board to take such steps as are specified in the directive relating to the connection of renewable energy generation facilities to a transmitter's transmission system or a distributor's distribution system; and
- The Board will be required, where applicable, to consider the promotion of the use of renewable energy sources when it considers whether the construction, expansion or reinforcement of an electricity transmission line or electricity distribution line or the making of an interconnection is in the public interest.
Highlights of the amendments to the Environmental Protection Act include:
- Where a renewable energy project involves engaging in specified activities, a person will not be able to engage in the project except under the authority of and in accordance with a renewable energy approval issued by the Director. A person who will be engaged in a renewable energy project will be exempt from specified approval and permit requirements. A new part, Part V.0.1, will also cover applications for renewable energy approvals and the Director's powers with respect to those approvals; and
- Existing appeal rights will be extended to persons with respect to renewable energy approvals. Persons who would not otherwise be entitled to a hearing may, on specified grounds, require a hearing by the Tribunal in respect of a decision of the Director in relation to a renewable energy approval.
Additional highlights contained in the GEA include:
- The Co-operative Corporations Act will be amended to authorize the incorporation of renewable energy co-operatives. A "renewable energy co-operative" is a co-operative whose articles restrict its business to generating and selling electricity produced from renewable energy sources. As part of its business, a renewable energy co-operative may establish or develop generation facilities to generate electricity produced from renewable energy sources and may promote the purchase by electricity users of electricity produced from renewable energy sources;
- The Conservation Authorities Act: If a person requests permission for development related to a renewable energy project, as defined in the GEA, a conservation authority or the executive committee appointed by a conservation authority will not be allowed to refuse the permission or to impose conditions on the permission unless it is necessary to do so to control pollution, flooding, erosion or dynamic beaches; and
- The Ministry of Natural Resources Act: The Minister may require that the proponent of a renewable energy project, as defined in the GEA, provide to the Minister the information or studies that the Minister considers necessary before the Minister will issue a permit or approval under an Act for whose administration the Minister is responsible.