Recent Ontario Developments in Energy and Environment

This blog post provides an update on recent noteworthy developments in energy and environmental legislation in Ontario, specifically on the Ontario government’s decision to (i) repeal the Green Energy Act, 2009 (ii) amend Ontario Regulation 359/09, and (iii) commence consultation on a new climate change plan.

  1. Bill 34, Green Energy Repeal Act, 2018 (“Bill 34”)

On September 21, 2018, the Ontario government issued its proposal to repeal the Green Energy Act, 2009 (the “Act”), including associated regulations. Such proposed legislation would:

  • re-enact certain provisions of the Act and associated regulations relating to conservation and energy efficiency initiatives under the Electricity Act, 1998;
  • amend the Planning Act, 1990 to increase the power of municipalities to reject renewable energy projects; and
  • amend the Environmental Protection Act, 1990 to provide authority to the Lieutenant Governor in Council to make regulations prohibiting issuance or renewal of renewable energy approvals, including where demand for electricity created by such energy project is not demonstrated.

Under Bill 34, certain provisions of the Act would be re-enacted as part of the Electricity Act, 1998. Of note, the re-enacted provisions would permit the government to create regulations in certain areas, including:

  • regulating energy and water efficiency standards for appliances and products in Ontario;
  • permitting the use of certain goods, services and technologies notwithstanding restrictions that may otherwise prevent their use (such as outdoor clotheslines in a residential context even if a condo corporation prohibits their use);
  • regulating and establishing a common data standard for energy data;
  • requiring certain building owners to report their building’s energy and water consumption and greenhouse gas emission data annually; and
  • requiring annual reporting by municipalities, municipal service boards, universities, colleges, schools and hospitals on their energy use and greenhouse gas emissions and publishing of such reports on their websites.

The proposed changes to the Planning Act, 1990 would increase the authority of the Ontario government and municipalities to reject renewable energy projects through the following amendments:

  • a new provision providing that there is no appeal to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal in respect of a refusal or failure to adopt or approve changes to an official plan that proposes to authorize a renewable energy undertaking, including a generation facility, project, testing facility or testing project;
  • a new provision providing that there is no appeal to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal in respect of all or any part of an application for amendment to a zoning by-law passed under section 34 if the amendment proposes to permit a renewable energy undertaking, including a generation facility, project, testing facility or testing project; and
  • repealing exemptions for renewable energy undertakings from other requirements under the Planning Act, 1990 including with respect to policy statements, provincial plans, official plans, demolition control by-laws and development control by-laws.

The comment period on Bill 34 ended on October 21, 2018.[1] Bill 34 passed First Reading on September 20, 2018 and is currently at the Second Reading stage.

  1. Ontario Regulation 359/09 – Renewable Energy Approvals

The Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change is currently consulting on a proposed regulatory amendment to the Renewable Energy Approvals Regulation (Ontario Regulation 359/09). This proposed change would require anyone planning a renewable energy project to demonstrate a demand for the electricity created by such proposed energy project in order to be eligible for a renewable energy approval. The Ontario government has indicated that this proposed amendment is “consistent with [the] government’s decision to wind down long-term contracts for electricity that the system does not need at this time”.[2] Such regulatory amendment would not affect renewable energy approvals that have already been issued.

The comment period is currently open and ends on November 5, 2018.[3]

  1. Consultation on an Ontario Climate Change Plan

On October 23, 2018, the Ontario government began consultation on a “made-in-Ontario climate change plan”.[4] The Ontario government noted that it would be releasing a plan this fall detailing areas of focus for the Ontario government in fighting climate change and becoming more resilient to climate change. Certain areas of focus already identified by the Ontario government include:

  • expanding on the understanding of the effects of climate change on households, businesses, communities and public infrastructure to help in becoming more resilient to climate change;
  • creating dedicated measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and holding polluters accountable; and
  • encouraging private sector innovative climate solutions, which includes the creation of an emissions-reduction fund to invest in technology-based solutions to reduce emissions in Ontario.

The comment period is open until November 16, 2018. Comments can be submitted here.

 

[1] https://ero.ontario.ca/notice/013-3832

[2] https://ero.ontario.ca/notice/013-3800

[3] https://ero.ontario.ca/notice/013-3800

[4] https://www.ontario.ca/form/tell-us-your-ideas-climate-change

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