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The Ministry of Environment is bracing for the 500 to 800 renewable energy approval applications that they expect to receive once the Ontario Power Authority issues its Feed In Tariff contract offers, starting in March. An approvals team has been assembled. Amid extensive internal consultations and 150 pre-submission meetings, the necessary forms are being released; technical guidance documents will be published soon. The first REA application has already been filed.

Ministry staff are warning stakeholders to watch the Environmental Registry for additional consultations in the coming year. Outstanding policy issues include:

  1. The numerous approvals issues associated with transmission;
  2. The fees to be paid for renewable energy approval applications;
  3. Much more detail on the requirements for offshore wind; and
  4. The related need for approvals reform so that other types of approvals aren’t choked off.

Changes are also occurring at the Environmental Review Tribunal, which will hear appeals from REAs. The ERT Chair, Toby Vigod, has announced her retirement in June. Her successor will have a more limited job, as “Associate Chair”, under the lead of the new Executive Chair of Environment and Land Tribunals, Michael Gottheil. Questions are being raised about whether the ERT could or should be folded into the Ontario Municipal Board, which could significantly erode the protection of sensitive lands.

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