Class EA for Minor Transmission Facilities
Project information about this class environmental assessment.
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We made changes to the Class Environmental Assessment (EA) for Minor Transmission Facilities to align assessment requirements with environmental impact and streamline the process while maintaining strong environmental oversight and protection.
These changes to the Class Environmental Assessment for Minor Transmission are in addition to the amendments to update thresholds that came into effect on January 1, 2022.
This class environmental assessment sets out a planning process for specific minor transmission line and transmission station projects.
Hydro One Networks Incorporated
Province of Ontario
Kendrick Doll, Environmental Assessment Branch
Class environmental assessment—major amendment ( 2022): approved
Date submitted: October 1, 2019
Expiry of public comment period: August 22, 2020
Decision date: July 12, 2022
Class environmental assessment—thresholds amendment (2022): approved
Expiry of public comment period: September 3, 2021
Date into effect: January 1, 2022
Class environmental assessment—amendment (2016): approved
Date submitted: December 13, 2013
Expiry of public comment period: February 7, 2014
Expiry of public comment period for ministry review: October 24, 2014
Date approved: November 16, 2016
Terms of reference: approved
Date submitted: October 25, 2002
Expiry of public comment period: November 25, 2002
Decision date: February 17, 2004
Decision date: April 23, 1992
Class environmental assessment (1992): approved
Class environmental assessment—major amendment (July 2022)
Ontario made changes to the Class Environmental Assessment (EA) for Minor Transmission Facilities. The changes will:
- help get these low-risk projects started sooner, so communities can benefit from reliable and cost-effective electricity services.
- align assessment requirements with potential environmental impact and streamline the process, while maintaining strong environmental oversight and protection.
- provide routine and low-risk refurbishments to existing transmission lines and temporary transmission lines projects, such as the replacement of damaged and aging wood poles, the opportunity for exemption from requiring an EA subject to an archaeological screening process.
- clarify that responding to an emergency is exempt from the requirements of an EA, consistent with other Class EAs.
- incorporate the amendments that were made to the Environmental Assessment Act in 2019 and 2020.
- correct errors, update references and names and improve the clarity of the document.
The requirements in the Class EA must be met before a project can move forward. The Class EA for Minor Transmission Facilities is one of ten Class EAs that are approved for use in Ontario.
Approved amendments (July 2022)
Following the review and consideration of amendments proposed by Hydro One, various amendments were made to the Class EA for Minor Transmission Facilities that reflect the feedback we heard from Indigenous communities, stakeholders and other agencies.
The changes provide transmission line projects that are anticipated to be low impact an opportunity to be exempt from the Class Environmental Assessment process, subject to an archaeological screening process. The two new transmission line categories eligible for exemption include:
- Temporary transmission lines that are designed to operate at less than 500 kV and are less than 50 km in length.
- Refurbishments of transmission lines designed to operate at less than 500 kV resulting in no increase in voltage up to 45 poles or structures per project.
Transmission line projects that meet this length and voltage criteria will be required to complete an archaeological screening process to ensure archaeological resources are considered prior to being exempt from further Environmental Assessment Act requirements. This archaeological screening process is based on input we received from Indigenous communities and the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport. Changes also clarify that responding to an emergency is exempt from the requirements of an EA, consistent with other Class EAs. We are also making additional updates that include:
- updating the naming conventions, acronyms, references to recent legislative changes and the addition and deletion of certain definitions consequential to other amendments.
- increasing the time lapse provision (the time between filing the Class EA with the ministry and initiation of construction) to ten years from the previous five years to prevent delays in project implementation.
- clarifying that emergency situations include imminent risk of failure with potential to cause a power disruption or safety or environmental hazards .
- updating the description of telecommunication stations to clarify that although typical, some telecommunication stations may not have a tower present.
We encourage all proponents to review the amendments and transition provisions to assess how their projects may be affected.
Read the July 2022 Class Environmental Assessment for Minor Transmission Facilities which incorporates all of the approved amendments.
Hydro One has 30 days from the date of the Notice of Amendments to post the amended version of the Class EA for Minor Transmission Facilities on its website.
Class environmental assessment—thresholds amendment (January 2022)
Ontario Regulation 852/21 amended the Class EA for Minor Transmission Facilities (Class EA), on January 1, 2022 to align the environmental assessment requirements for certain transmission line projects, under the Environmental Assessment Act to their federal equivalents.
These amendments updated the EA requirements for critical transmission infrastructure, while maintaining strong environmental protections.
Class environmental assessment—amendment (2016)
The Minor Transmission Facilities (MTF) Class EA was first approved under the Environmental Assessment Act (EAA) on December 27, 1980. It has been subsequently revised six times, with the present version having been approved on April 23, 1992. In 1996, Hydro One submitted an amended MTF Class EA to the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC, previously the Ministry of the Environment) for review and approval. The MOECC review of Hydro One’s 1996 submission was put on hold due to the opening of the electricity market to competition and the new Ontario Regulation 116/01 (Electricity Projects). Hydro One determined that the 1996 submission would need to be replaced and significant amendments to the MTF Class EA would be required for the following reasons:
- To ensure consistency with the Ontario Regulation 116/01 (Electricity Projects);
- To comply with the MOECC’s Code of Practice for Preparing, Reviewing and Using Class Environmental Assessments in Ontario; and
- The most recent version of the Class EA refers to
Ontario Hydro(now Hydro One Networks Inc.) as the sole proponent. As a result of Ontario Regulation 116/01, all applicable private and public transmission projects are subject to this Class EA. The MTF Class EA therefore needs to be amended to reflect its applicability to all transmission project proponents.
Because of the nature of the amendments required for the MTF Class EA to meet the three above requirements, Hydro One opted to treat the Amended MTF Class EA as a new Class EA that was being prepared instead of following the process for simply making amendments to an existing Class EA.
On December 13, 2013, Hydro One submitted the proposed Amended MTF Class EA to the MOECC for approval. The Amended MTF Class EA was made available for public inspection and comment for a seven-week period which ended on February 7, 2014. The Government Review Team, which includes federal, provincial and local agencies, reviewed the proposed Amended MTF Class EA to ensure that the information and conclusions of the proposed Amended MTF Class EA were valid, based on their agencies’ mandates. The public, Aboriginal communities and interested organizations also had an opportunity to review the proposed Amended MTF Class EA and submit their comments to the MOECC. All comments received by the MOECC are considered by the Minister before a decision is made about the proposed Amended MTF Class EA, including comments and concerns related to implementing projects using the proposed Amended MTF Class EA.
The Class EA was approved on November 16, 2016.
Terms of reference
These Terms of Reference (ToR) for amending the Class EA for Minor Transmission Facilities set out how Hydro One Networks Incorporated (Hydro One), as the lead proponent, proposes to meet the Environmental Assessment Act (EAA) requirements for the review of and revisions to the existing Class EA for Minor Transmission Facilities (Class EA). The Class EA was first approved under the EAA by Order-in-Council number 3436/80 dated December 27, 1980. The most recent revision (#6) was approved on April 23, 1992, by Order-in-Council number 1173/92 and refers to "Ontario Hydro" (now Hydro One Networks Inc.) as the sole proponent.
The Class EA is being amended at this time for three reasons:
- The current approval for the Class EA was due to expire on April 30, 1997; however, the ministry extended the approval to allow Hydro One time to prepare an amended Class EA. With this Terms of Reference, Hydro One Networks is pursuing approval of a new amended Class EA.
- To ensure consistency with Ontario Regulation 116/01 (Electricity Projects), made under the EAA in April 2001, as well as other applicable amendments to the EAA, Regulation 116/01 defines the types of electricity projects that are designated as undertakings to which the EAA applies. The regulation and the associated draft Guide to Environmental Assessment Requirements for Electricity Projects, March 2001, establishes three electricity project categories, each with their own EA requirements.
- The most recent revision to the Class EA (#6) refers to
Ontario Hydro(now Hydro One Networks Incorporated) as the sole proponent. As a result of Ontario Regulation 116/01 all applicable private and public transmission projects are subject to this Class EA. The Class EA therefore needs to be amended to reflect its applicability to all transmission project proponents.
Amendments to the Class EA are being considered in order to:
- respond to the opening of Ontario’s electricity marketplace;
- address any relevant changes to the EAA
- include all applicable private and public transmission facilities
- revise/delete the current rationale of the need for proposed transmission facilities
- revisit the activity categories included and excluded in the Class EA
- review potential environmental effects and associated mitigation approaches
- ensure consistency with Regulation 116/01
- include a process for dealing with Part II Order requests
- review and improve the efficiency and effectiveness for the approval, renewal and amendment processes
- ensure a comprehensive consultation process
- include effectiveness, effects and compliance monitoring and reporting requirements
- recognize and, where possible, address the requirements of related provincial legislation as well as the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA)
Class environmental assessment (1992)
The Class EA for Minor Transmission Facilities was approved on April 23, 1992 (Order-in-Council number 1173/92). The purpose of the Class EA is to provide a set of processes which allow proponents to assess their projects and activities in accordance with the requirements of the Environmental Assessment Act. Projects and activities included under the Class EA are carried out routinely and have predictable environmental effects that can be readily mitigated with proven methods and technologies. All projects within the class of undertakings can be planned and constructed in accordance with a common set of processes. The set of processes ensures adherence by the individual proponent to an appropriate environmental study before implementing any undertaking within this class. Provided the process is followed, projects and activities included under the Class EA do not require formal review and approval under the Environmental Assessment Act. Upon successful completion of the appropriate process, as described in the Class EA, the undertaking is considered to be approved. The process that is implemented through approval of the Class EA addresses the intent of the Evironmental Assessment Act by providing for the identification, evaluation and selection of a preferred method of addressing environmental effects and the appropriate mitigation giving due regard to the need to protect the environment.