The ministry considered all 61 comments received during the public consultation period for the technical bulletins (EBR posting 010-9235) and made changes to the Technical Guide accordingly. Revisions in response to these comments include:
- The addition of an introductory chapter to describe the application process and provide context for the reports required for a complete REA application. This was in response to comments received suggesting that the Technical Guide could be improved by consolidating pieces of information found among the various bulletins and providing additional clarity about regulatory requirements and interpretation of definitions.
- The revision to several sections to allow for flexibility with respect to defining process equipment not likely to influence the evaluation of environmental effects. This was in response to comments received suggesting that for certain types of facilities, the information requested in REA reports was not relevant for determining the negative environmental effects that will or are likely to occur and was difficult or excessively onerous for applicants to describe without providing any benefit to the application review.
- Clarification with respect to the responsibility to describe all negative environmental effects that will or are likely to occur from engaging in a renewable energy project. This was in response to comments requesting that more comprehensive guidance be included with respect to a variety of issues, including the potential impacts to road traffic, potential stray voltage effects on livestock, consideration of soil conditions for construction plans, and the potential impacts on local interests, such as aerodromes/airports and recreational trails.
- Interpretation and clarification to define project scope. This was in response to comments received suggesting that the technical bulletins were not sufficiently clear in describing how the definitions of “renewable energy generation facility” and “project location” should be interpreted for scoping facility components included in an REA application.
- Revisions to the guidance to provide greater clarity about the purpose of each REA report and how the information should be divided and/or referenced amongst the reports. This was in response to comments received suggesting that there was a lack of clarity/understanding about the role of each report as a component of a complete REA application.
The 373 comments received by the ministry during the comment periods for postings related to regulatory amendments to O. Reg. 359/09 and Regulation 334 (EBR postings 011-0181, 011-5932, and 011-6509) were also considered. To provide additional clarifications, the Technical Guide has been updated and modified to include explanatory sections describing these regulatory changes and to provide further interpretations, ensuring consistency with the current regulatory requirements. Revisions include:
- Additions/clarifications with respect to the definition of noise receptors and participating noise or odour receptors and guidance on how noise receptor locations can be appropriately identified for the purpose of an REA application.
- The Environmental Activity and Sector Registry pathway for certain renewable energy projects that meet the operating and eligibility requirements.
- Revisions to capture the most current transition provisions in O. Reg. 359/09.
- Revisions to add further clarity with respect to changes in the natural and cultural heritage assessment processes.
- Providing additional guidance on the issuance of Draft Site plans, including the inclusion of a template for a “Notice of Draft Site Plan”.
- Providing additional guidance for describing sewage/stormwater management plans, specifically regarding erosion and sediment control and oil/lubricant spill control.
- The addition of the updated “Checklist to Requirements of O. Reg. 359/09” to assist applicants in providing a complete REA application.
Comments received with respect to the proposed updates to the Technical Guide through EBR posting 011-5932 were also considered. The majority of comments received were related to the proposed new Chapter 10 for making changes to renewable energy projects. A very small number of comments were received on Chapters 1-9, 11 and the appendices.
A number of revisions were made to the proposal posted for comment to provide additional clarity and guidance based on the feedback received, ministry experience to date and the best available science, including:
- Guidance for projects on Crown Land with respect to consultation and cultural heritage resources.
- Further clarification on coordination for renewable energy approvals and Endangered Species Act permits.
- Guidance for integrating operational flexibility into an REA application.
- Further clarification on the requirements and role of Conservation Authorities.
- Clarification on the role of Environment Canada.
- Reinforcement of the requirement to document all consultation activities, including those with public bodies and agencies.
- Clarification on the interrelationship between various setback prohibitions.
- Guidance on the procedure for additional water takings in extraordinary conditions (i.e. an infrequent storm event) following the issuance of an REA.
- Guidance on additional considerations/inclusions for Noise Assessment Reports.
- Minor editorial/administrative changes throughout the guide to ensure consistency and correctness.
With respect to Chapter 10 (Making Changes to Renewable Energy Projects), comments received were extremely varied, offering numerous suggestions for enhancing clarity and improving the proposed process, including the addition of a fourth category of change, suggestions with respect to documentation, increasing or decreasing Director discretion in the process, and suggestions for differentiating between categories, in some cases, offering specific examples.
In July 2012, O. Reg. 359/09 was amended to give the Director authority to require a proponent to update project documentation, provide additional notification and conduct additional public meetings in response to the proposed changes. The regulation was further amended to document a clear, explicit process for making changes to approved and proposed projects. The full decision notice can be viewed by searching posting 011-5932 or by clicking on the link to the right of this notice.
As a result of the comments received and the amended regulation, Chapter 10 was substantially revised to ensure consistency with the new regulatory process and to provide greater certainty as to how a proposed project change may be addressed. The chapter has also been restructured to improve readability and reduce duplication of information.
The revised Chapter 10 and supporting materials include:
- Refined and clarified definitions for the categories of project changes, which resulted in the addition of a fourth category of project change.
- Situational-based examples for each category of project change rather than technology-based examples which were included previously.
- Clarified expectations regarding the typical documentation, notification, and consultation requirements that may be imposed by the Director, based on the category of project change and the stage at which the project change is proposed in the REA process.
- A delineation of the process for making project changes before (prior to application submission and during government technical review) and after the issuance of an REA. Includes process flow diagrams for making project changes at various stages in the REA process.
- Clarified service standards and EBR posting expectations.
- Template notices for proposed project changes and a project change overview chart in the Technical Guide appendices.
The revised Chapter 10 supports the July 2012 regulatory amendment granting Director authority to require proponents to undertake additional requirements with respect to project changes and aligns with the regulatory process established for other environmental approvals (i.e. ECAs). It aims to formalize and more clearly communicate the project change process; provide industry and the public with an expectation of the typical requirements; increase public transparency; and maintain flexibility through Director discretion to deal with project specific issues.
Finally, the 24 comments received through the consultation on the draft publication “Guidance for Preparing Water Assessment and Water Body Reports as part of an Application under O. Reg. 359/09” were also considered and incorporated into the finalized Technical Guide. As noted above, a separate decision notice has been issued for this policy proposal and can be viewed by searching posting 011-1962 or by clicking on the link to the right of this notice.