On October 7, 2010, Ontario’s Ministry of the Environment (MOE) proposed amendments to O. Reg. 359/09, the regulation governing Renewable Energy Approvals (REAs). The following are among the key proposed amendments:

  •  For the determination of setbacks, the definition of a noise receptor on a vacant lot, for which there is no site plan approval or building permit, would be changed from the centre of the vacant lot to where a building would “normally be located,” having regard to existing zoning by-laws and the area’s building pattern. In addition, proponents would only be required to consider noise receptors that existed (or were deemed to exist) at the time of application (that is, when a draft site plan is issued). They would also have the option of submitting a draft site plan showing the proposed location of wind turbines, but only taking into account those noise receptors that existed (or were deemed to exist) when the draft site plan was issued. The plan would expire six months after its publication unless the proponent submitted an application for a REA.
  •  In considering the noise setback for the siting of new wind turbines, proponents would be required to include planned turbines with sound power levels equal to or greater than 102 dBA within 3 km of a noise receptor if the turbines have been identified in a REA application, a draft site plan or a notice of completion, even if the turbines have not yet been approved.
  •  Proponents would be required to submit a written summary explaining how they determined that their projects were not situated on certain protected properties or an archaeological or a heritage resource.
  •  Certain classes of wind projects would be required to meet additional criteria. Proponents of Class 3, 4 and 5 wind facilities (that is, those facilities with a nameplate capacity of 50 kW or more or those facilities with at least one turbine in water) would be required to complete an environmental monitoring plan for birds, bats and other species identified by the Ministry of Natural Resources. Class 2 wind facilities (that is, those facilities with a nameplate capacity of more than 3 kW and less than 50 kW that are built on land) would be required to produce a report outlining the sound power level, manufacturer’s specifications and site plan.
  •  Further procedural detail would be provided regarding (i) the distribution of notices for project and public meetings and (ii) in mandatory consultations with the public, aboriginal communities, municipalities and the Niagara Escarpment Commission.
  •  The nameplate capacity thresholds for solar facilities (which are used to determine, among other things, whether a REA is required) would be changed from 10 kW to 12 kW.

The MOE is accepting comments on the proposed amendments until November 21, 2010. For further information, please see Proposed Amendments to O.Reg. 359/09.