Renewable energy generation will be a key part of how Ontario will meet its future energy needs. The Green Energy and Green Economy Act, 2009, was passed in the Legislature on May 14, 2009. The Act places a priority on expanding Ontario’s use of clean and renewable sources of energy including wind, water, solar, biomass and biogas power. Building clean, renewable sources of energy will help Ontario combat climate change and air pollution and help phase out coal-fired generation. Phasing out coal-fired generation is the single largest greenhouse-gas (GHG) reduction initiative in Canada and will reduce Ontario’s GHG emissions by up to 30 megatonnes.
As a key pillar in supporting the renewable energy generation and the development of Ontario’s green economy, the Ontario government introduced O. Reg. 359/09 (Renewable Energy Approvals under Part V.0.1) made under the Environmental Protection Act, on September 24, 2009. This regulation offers an improved approach to regulating renewable energy generation facilities that is based on transparency and clear, up-front provincial rules, while ensuring that the environment and human health are protected. In keeping with this approach, sections 39 and 40 as well as sections 44 and 45 of O. Reg. 359/09 require the assessment of any potential negative environmental effects on water bodies.