Ontario revamps review process for large energy projects

The Ontario Ministry of Energy said May 6 that the Canadian province’s new government is improving how the province plans and builds future large energy infrastructure projects.

To ensure that Ontario builds energy infrastructure in a process that respects communities, the new government has asked two key agencies to develop a new regional energy planning process based on formal input from municipalities, communities and the energy sector.

Regional energy plans will rely on public consultations and municipal input to ensure that Ontario gets siting decisions right the first time – while recognizing that a strong electricity grid requires ongoing investments in clean, modern and reliable energy infrastructure, said the ministry.

The Independent Electricity System Operator and the Ontario Power Authority are expected to report back to the Minister of Energy with a joint implementation plan by Aug. 1, 2013. The plan will take into account recommendations on energy project siting made by the Legislative Assembly’s Standing Committee on Justice Policy.

“Through strong public consultation, regional energy plans will lead to better decision making – so that future electricity generation contracts place energy infrastructure in the right location from the beginning,” the ministry said. “Engaging communities in the regional energy planning process is part of the new Ontario government’s plan to build strong communities, powered by clean, reliable energy.”

The government recently announced a six-month review of Ontario’s Long-Term Energy Plan, to determine the best energy supply mix for the province over the next 20 years. The review will be based on strong public consultations.

Since 2003, Ontario has built or renewed over 7,500 kilometers of transmission lines. Ontario has also modernized or rebuilt over 11,500 MW of clean energy since 2003 – enough electricity to power over 2.8 million homes. A provincial plan to phase out all coal-fired capacity is expected to be completed at the end of this year. The long-shut Bruce Power nuclear plant has recently been revived to fill much of the hole from the coal shutdowns. The main power supplier in the province is Ontario Power Generation.

“Since 2003, we’ve rebuilt a broken energy system into one of the most reliable, clean and technologically advanced grids in North America. Now it’s time to improve how we plan, site, and build energy infrastructure in Ontario. By working with municipalities and the public to create regional energy plans, we’ll make sure we get siting decisions right the first time,” said Bob Chiarelli, Minister of Energy.

“We applaud Premier [Kathleen] Wynne and Minister Chiarelli for taking leadership on this issue and recognizing the importance of advancing generation projects while still balancing the needs of individual municipalities. We welcome the opportunity to work with the provincial government, and its agencies, to achieve balanced siting protocols that respect the needs of municipalities and consumers,” said Elise Herzig, President and CEO of the Ontario Energy Association.

Wynne is Ontario’s 25th Premier. She was first elected to the Ontario legislature in 2003 and became the leader of the Ontario Liberal Party in January. She has previously served as Ontario’s Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, Minister of Transportation and Minister of Education.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.