Waterpower projects

If you are proposing a waterpower project on Ontario Crown land and/or private land, you need to first meet the requirements of the Environmental Assessment for Waterpower. This assessment is a part of the Environmental Assessment Act.

This assessment outlines the planning process for waterpower projects. It helps identify:

  • potential environmental impacts
  • public concerns
  • agency concerns
  • Aboriginal concerns
  • preferred means to address concerns

The approval process for these projects is based on the size of the proposed facility:

  • projects larger than 200 megawatts are subject to an Individual Environmental Assessment
  • projects smaller than 200 megawatts follow the approvals process set out in the Class Environmental Assessment for Waterpower Projects

Under the approval of the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks, the Ontario Waterpower Association monitors the implementation of the Class Environmental Assessment for waterpower projects.

Completion of a waterpower environmental assessment process doesn’t give you access to Crown land. Crown land access requirements are laid out in the Renewable Energy on Crown Land Policy and the Public Lands Act.

You can also read a related article on individual environmental assessments.

Wind power, solar power and bio-energy

To build a wind power, solar power or bio-energy project on Ontario Crown land and/or private land, you need to follow the application and approvals process in the Renewable Energy Approvals regulation.

Renewable Energy Approvals are administered by the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks under the Environmental Protection Act.

The ministry helps make project-specific decisions that may impact your application. Alongside the Renewable Energy Approvals process, you need to follow the ministry’s related requirements and guidelines.

Approval and permit requirements

You’ll need to meet the requirements outlined in the Approval and Permitting Requirements Document for Renewable Energy Projects. This may require you to submit information related to relevant permits, licences, authorizations and approvals.

The Approval and Permitting Requirements Document applies to:

  • wind, solar and bio-energy facilities, including expansions and/or modifications and renewable energy testing facilities
  • projects on Crown and/or private land, where the ministry permits or approvals are required

Proposals may be subject to the requirements if:

  • a water crossing, bridge, culvert and/or causeway is involved and there is no local Conservation Authority
  • Crown timber resources will be harvested
  • development is within 75 metres of a petroleum resources operation, such as a gas well

In addition to the approvals and permits required by the ministry, the applicant must fulfill the requirements of other regulatory agencies under provincial and/or federal legislation.

For more information on the renewable energy approvals process, please read through the Technical Guide for Renewable Energy Approvals.

Natural heritage assessments

Renewable energy projects must undergo a Natural Heritage Assessment to ensure Ontario’s natural heritage is protected.

The ministry’s Natural heritage assessment guide for renewable energy projects provides you with technical direction and procedures for completing your assessment.

You need to:

  • complete and submit your assessment to the ministry before applying for a Renewable Energy Approval
  • include the ministry review results with your Renewable Energy Approval application

Wildlife protection

Proposed wind power projects must address potential impacts to bird and bat populations and their habitats.

The Renewable Energy Approval regulation:

  • establishes setbacks from significant bird and bat wildlife habitats
  • includes mandatory post-construction monitoring to ensure birds, bats and their habitats are protected, and established mortality thresholds are not exceeded

The ministry’s bird and bat habitat guidelines can help you address regulatory requirements relating to the planning, construction and operation stages of onshore wind power projects on Crown and private land.

The guidelines include:

  • methods to evaluate the significance of bird and bat habitats
  • wind power mortality thresholds for birds and bats
  • direction on implementing the setback approach from significant habitats
  • post construction mortality monitoring requirements

Habitat guidelines:

Birds and bird habitats guidelines for wind power projects

Bats and bat habitats guidelines for wind power projects