The government has placed a priority on expanding the amount of energy produced from renewable energy sources. Renewable energy development is a cornerstone of the province’s future prosperity and its commitment to protecting the environment.
The Ministry of Natural Resources manages provincial Crown land, which makes up approximately 87% of the provincial land base, including the beds of most rivers. The Ministry makes Crown land available for a variety of activities, including renewable energy.
A draft Renewable Energy on Crown Land policy has been developed to provide updated direction on how the government will manage Crown land to support Ontario’s renewable energy needs while balancing the social, economic, and ecological interests of the Province.
The draft Renewable Energy on Crown Land Policy establishes strategic policy direction for Crown land management to support water power, onshore wind power, and solar power development.
Offshore wind power and renewable energy development in provincial parks and conservation reserves (south of the Far North of Ontario) are out of scope of this policy.
The draft policy includes direction on the scope and application of the policy, overarching objectives and supporting actions that will guide how the Ministry makes decisions on Crown land availability and management and renewable energy, as well as establishing the basis for new application procedures. In some parts of the draft policy, general direction on implementation is highlighted. In other cases, more specific procedural guidance will be developed to support the objectives of the draft policy.
The first three objectives of the draft policy focus on where (location) and how (process) the Ministry will make Crown land available for renewable energy development. The Ministry will look to government energy plans and programs when deciding where to make Crown land available for renewable energy. New application processes will be established using up front criteria. The draft policy represents a fundamental shift from previous approaches, where the Ministry accepted applications across the province, to a more coordinated and focused approach better aligned with government energy objectives. This approach will result in more strategic availability of Crown land, allowing the Ministry, industry and communities to focus on more viable opportunities for renewable energy development.
The draft policy is intended to ensure consistent policy direction on renewable energy in the Far North of Ontario, as per the provisions of the Far North Act (2010).
The draft policy encourages and enables Aboriginal community economic benefits from renewable energy development on Crown land. A key policy change proposed in the draft policy would establish that in the Far North of Ontario, renewable energy applications would only be accepted from Aboriginal communities and/or their partners.
If approved, the policy will be used to review all Crown land applications received since 2004 to ensure the applications are consistent with provincial energy, transmission and supply needs. The Crown land applications that have power purchase agreements from the Ontario government will be processed consistent with current Ministry Crown land site release policy and procedures.
During consultation on this draft policy, the existing policies and procedures will remain in effect, although they may be subject to amendment in the interim, where necessary to facilitate or enable implementation of the Green Energy Act and energy procurement.