Dianne had great fun yesterday presenting, to the Ontario Legislature, the Ontario Bar Association’s comments on the Green Energy Act. Our key themes were Clarity, Transparency and Effectiveness. We boiled our report down to 14 recommendations, of which #1 is the most important:
1. Provide how land-use and common law conflicts with approved renewable energy projects should be resolved; don’t leave this to the courts. Why encourage proponents to build a renewable energy project that the courts might shut down as a nuisance?2. Provide how constitutional objections will be managed, including those relating to aboriginal claims.
3. Temporary structures to collect information should be exempt from municipal controls.
4. Reconsider adopting the definition of “environment” from the Environmental Assessment Act.
5. Specify what changes to a renewable energy project require an amendment to the approval.
6. Incorporate other provincial approvals relevant to small hydro projects, after a phase in period.
7. Include the proposed service guarantee in the Act. Don’t permit the MOE to start and stop the clock, except for constitutional objections and the provincial interest.
8. Include transitional provisions for projects already in, or through, the approvals pipeline.
9. Clarify who will own the environmental attributes that will be generated by renewable energy projects
10. Explain the objectives to be achieved by the proposed differential feed in tariffs. Monitor and report periodically on whether these objectives are being achieved.
11. Establish clear rules to prevent abuse of preferential tariffs, such as the community rate.
12. Consider a low income energy rate assistance program.
13. Ensure there is sufficient transmission / distribution capacity.
14. Give the Environmental Commissioner better access to the Facilitator’s information. Tell the public about hazards to the environment, human health or safety that would be exempt from confidentiality under the Freedom of Information Act.