Get a renewable energy project approved
How to get a renewable energy project approved on Crown or private land.
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Water power projects
If you’re proposing a water power 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 water power 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 and Climate Change, the Ontario Waterpower Association monitors the implementation of the Class Environmental Assessment for waterpower projects.
The Best Management Practices Guide for the Mitigation of Impacts of Waterpower Facility Construction can assist you in constructing, rehabilitating or repairing a water power facility in an environmentally responsible manner. It was developed by the Ontario Waterpower Association in conjunction with the ministry, Ontario Power Generation and Fisheries and Oceans Canada.
Completion of a water power 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, the Public Lands Act, and the Lakes and Rivers Improvement 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 and Climate Change 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:
- the project impacts protected species and/or habitat
- 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
Consult the Provincial Approvals for Renewable Energy Projects Guide for more information. It explains how the Approval and Permitting Requirements Document and the Renewable Energy Approvals work together.
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, contact the Renewable Energy Facilitation Office at the Ministry of Energy.
You can also 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.
Ministry’sNatural 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
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