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Minister Smitherman has announced a series of amendments to Bill 150, the Green Energy Act. Many of them respond to the recommendations of the Ontario Bar Association which Dianne presented to the Legislative Committee on Monday, as well as the concerns of the Law Society about Inspections and solicitor-client privilege.

The key amendments include:

  1. a broadening of the grounds of appeal against renewable energy approvals, in cases of serious health effects;
  2. a new process for consultation with municipalities and a broad range of government ministries on siting of renewable energy projects;
  3. increased access to information so the Environmental Commissioner can provide proper oversight;
  4. elimination of unnecessary inspection and seizure powers; and
  5. a consultation process on setbacks.

The announcement is as follows:

    ————————————————————————-
    TOPICS – AMENDMENTS  – POLICY DEVELOPMENT
    ————————————————————————-
    Home Energy Audits 

    The buyer can opt out if the audit is not desired (eg.  major renovations or demolition contemplated).  Regulations will focus on principal  residences, single family homes.

    The audit will be transferable so that retrofit
    grants can be accessed by buyers.
    ————————————————————————-
    Community Consultation and Municipal Assistance

    Creating a new section that clearly ensures administration of the GEA  is done in such a way as to promote community consultation.

     

    A uniform process for proponent consultation with municipalities on site requirements and local infrastructure, as part of the renewable energy approvals process.

    Establish a working group involving Ministries of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Environment, Natural

    Resources, Energy and Infrastructure, and the Association of Municipalities of Ontario.

    Establish a provincial program to ensure municipalities can recover costs associated with
    renewable energy projects.
    ————————————————————————-
    Community and Aboriginal Assistance

    Establish a provincial program to ensure Aboriginal costs associated with
    renewable energy projects can be recovered.

    Establish a program to ensure project costs associated with
    community renewable energy projects can be recovered.
    ————————————————————————-
    Health Concerns

    Amending grounds for appeal under the Environmental Protection Act to protect against serious health effects. 

    The Ministry of the Environment to establish and fund an academic research chair to examine potential
    public health effects of renewable energy projects.

    Ongoing review of health and scientific research by the Ministry of the Environment.
    ————————————————————————-
    Setbacks

    Continued consultation by the Ministry of Environment to
    establish province-wide minimum setback standards and regulations regarding renewable energy projects
    (excluding some forms of renewable energy such as rooftop solar) with regard to human health, noise, and low frequency vibration.
    ————————————————————————-
    Enforcement

    Inspection and search provisions related to home
    energy audits and minimum energy efficiency standards
    for appliances and products will be eliminated.
    ————————————————————————-
    Mandating Domestic Content

    New section which clearly establishes the government’s commitment to domestic content.

    Domestic content levels will be established consistent with trade agreements and consultation with relevant sectors.
    ————————————————————————-
    Minister’s Directive

    Clarify that procurement directives under the new
    Powers directive authority focus only on renewable energy, energy efficiency and conservation.
    ————————————————————————-
    Energy Procurement 

    Reviewing future policy opportunities to address

    energy technologies including geothermal, solar thermal,
    combined heat and power and small scale wind.
    ————————————————————————-
    Stray Voltage 

    Minister to direct the Ontario Energy Board to

    manage and address issues related to stray voltage.
    ————————————————————————-
    Environmental Commissioner 

    Ensuring the ECO can meet the responsibilities outlined in the GEA. 

    Ensuring the information and documentation related to the development of conservation targets is transparent and publicly available.

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