On Wednesday September 17, 2008 the Hon. George Smitherman, the Ontario Minister of Energy and Infrastructure, issued a directive to the Ontario Power Authority ("OPA") under subsection 25.30(2) of the Electricity Act, 1998 to address key aspects of the Integrated Power System Plan ("IPSP" or "Plan"). Specifically, the Minister’s directive requires that the OPA revisit the following areas of the Plan:
- The amount and diversity of renewable energy sources in the supply mix;
- The improvement of transmission capacity in the "orange zones" in northern Ontario and other parts of the province that is limiting the development of new renewable energy supply;
- The potential of existing coal-fired assets to be converted to biomass;
- The availability of distributed generation;
- The potential for pumped storage to contribute to the energy supply mix during peak times and
- The viability of accelerating the achievement of stated conservation targets, including a review of the development and utilization of smart meters.
Enhanced Consultations and Partnerships with First Nations
In addition, the Minister also directed the OPA to undertake an enhanced process of consultation with First Nations and Métis communities in light of potential duty to consult obligations. The Minister has asked that the principle of "Aboriginal Partnership Opportunities" be considered in both generation and transmission.
Status of the 2006 Supply Mix Directive and revisions to the IPSP
According to the new Directive, the Supply Mix Directive of June 13, 2006 as approved by Cabinet, shall, in all other respects, remain in force and effect. However, the OPA will be required to revise the IPSP and submit it to the Ontario Energy Board within the next six months.
Implications for the Ontario Energy Board ("OEB") Hearing on the IPSP
The IPSP hearing before the OEB commenced on September 8, 2008. In view of the new Directive, on Thursday September 19, the Board decided that it would complete crossexamination of OPA Panel 2, on the Reference Forecast, and then suspend the hearing until the OPA is in a position to present its submissions to the Board on the implications of the Directive on the hearing process.