The Ministry of the Environment (MOE) is proposing regulatory amendments to O.Reg. 359/09 under the Environmental Protection Act (EPA) and to Reg. 334 under the Environmental Assessment Act (EAA) to streamline the regulatory process for renewable energy projects as part of the response to the Feed-in-Tariff (FIT) review, and provide additional clarity.
To encourage localized generation from smaller, cleaner sources of electricity and community-based renewable energy facilities, the Ministry is also proposing to allow specific small scale renewable energy projects to register on the Environmental Activity and Sector Registry (EASR). Registered projects are exempt from requiring a Renewable Energy Approval, and cannot be appealed to the Environmental Review Tribunal, a major potential obstacle.
The proposed EASR eligibility criteria for small scale renewable energy facilities are designed to eliminate potential impacts to the environment through facility design and siting restrictions. The first eligible facilities are proposed to be:
Small Ground-Mounted Solar (where the biggest issue is impact on agricultural land)
On-Farm Anaerobic Digestion
Landfill Gas Electricity Generation.
For solar, for example, the Ministry is seeking comments as to whether eligible project should be limited by the maximum footprint (three hectares); electricity production (500 kilowatts); or both. There would also be land use requirements, such as:
R-3: The facility is located at a site that meets one of the following conditions
A. The solar facility is a secondary use to existing industrial, commercial or institutional facilities where the land is zoned as industrial, commercial and institutional.
B. A previously developed or disturbed site that has undergone a phase two environmental site assessment, that, as of the date of the phase 2 assessment, did not meet the standards that must be met under paragraph 4i of subsection 168.4(1) of the Environmental Protection Act to permit a record of site condition to be filed under the environmental site registry.
C. The facility is located on a previously developed lot that does not have municipal sewage services or municipal drinking-water systems.
D. The facility is located on an agricultural operation that is actively farmed crop or pasture land, with a project location not larger than 0.4 hectares (1 acre) and is not located inside a settlement area as identified in a municipal growth plan.
The proposal is open for public comment until May 17.