The province currently addresses renewable energy generation facility siting through the Renewable Energy Approval (REA), the Environmental Sector Activity Registry (EASR), and through the program rules governing the Feed-In Tariff (FIT) and microFIT programs. The FIT and microFIT program rules included siting restrictions for Non-Rooftop Solar PV Facilities and Wind Facilities in relation to residential areas and the protection of prime agricultural land. These restrictions were additional to the siting restrictions included in the REA and EASR.
As the FIT and microFIT programs will no longer be accepting applications by the end of 2017, this proposed regulation would be required to ensure the appropriate siting of renewable energy generation facilities in relation to residential areas and prime agricultural land.
Enhancements to Ontario’s Net Metering Framework
The Province’s 2017 Long-Term Energy Plan (LTEP) commits to enhance Ontario’s net metering framework to give customers new ways to participate in clean, renewable electricity generation. In accordance with this commitment, the Ministry of Energy intends to expand net metering eligibility to include new ownership models and to ensure appropriate consumer protection provisions and siting restrictions are in place.
Legislative amendments to the Ontario Energy Board Act, 1998, required to expand the scope of eligible net metering ownership models, were tabled on November 14, 2017 through Bill 177, Stronger, Fairer Ontario Act (Budget Measures), 2017. Pending the passing of the proposed legislative amendments, the Ministry of Energy intends to propose regulatory changes to enable these new ownership models, as well as other regulatory measures in support of an expanded and enhanced net metering framework, as follows:
• Enable third-party ownership of net-metered generation facilities and virtual net metering demonstration projects;
• Adapt and enhance the existing energy consumer protection framework to support the introduction of third-party ownership arrangements; and
• Ensure that prescribed types of renewable energy generation facilities are sited appropriately.
The Ministry of Energy invites input on this regulatory proposal and corresponding regulatory proposals (posted separately and linked in the Additional Information section of this posting) to inform changes to Ontario’s net metering framework.
A plain language description of the proposed regulation follows:
Ensuring Appropriate Siting of Renewable Generation Facilities
The Ministry of Energy is proposing a new regulation to be made under the Electricity Act, 1998, to ensure that prescribed types of renewable energy generation facilities are sited appropriately.
The proposed regulation, to be made under the Electricity Act, 1998 (EA) would specify siting restrictions for Non-Rooftop Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Facilities and Wind Facilities. A facility that is captured by these regulatory restrictions would not be permitted to be connected to the distribution system or the transmission system.
A Non-Rooftop Solar PV Facility is a renewable energy generation facility located anywhere other than on the roof or wall of a building at which one or more solar photovoltaic collector panels or devices use light to generate electricity.
A Wind Facility is a renewable energy generation facility at which wind is used to generate electricity through the use of one or more wind turbines.
The proposed regulation is intended to complement siting restrictions under existing environmental regulation, which would remain in force.
1. Under the proposed regulation, the following types of renewable energy generation facilities would not be permitted to be connected to the distribution system or the transmission system.
a. Non-Rooftop Solar PV Facilities proposed to be sited less than 15 metres from the facility property boundaries.
b. Non-Rooftop Solar PV Facilities and Wind Facilities proposed to be connected to a residential dwelling.
c. Non-Rooftop Solar PV Facilities over 10 kW proposed to be located on properties within prime agricultural areas, as defined in the Provincial Policy Statement and designated in an official plan.
d. Non-Rooftop Solar PV Facilities over 10 kW proposed to be located on a property that is not captured by an official plan for which the prime agricultural area designation process has been completed.
2. Generators would be required to provide confirmation to the distributor or transmitter, signed by a relevant professional (e.g. a surveyor licenced by the Association of Ontario Land Surveyors), that the renewable energy generation facility meets the property boundary setback requirements (1a, above).
3. Generators would be required to provide confirmation to the distributor or transmitter, signed by a relevant professional (e.g. a member in good standing of the Canadian Institute of Planners who is a registered professional planner in Ontario), as evidence that a renewable energy generation facility meets the prime agricultural area siting requirements (1c and 1d, above).
4. In recognition of the authority of band councils elected under the Indian Act (Canada) to make decisions regarding land use on reserves, it is the policy of the Ministry of Energy to defer to band councils in relation to the use of reserve land for power generation purposes. As a result, the proposed siting restrictions for renewable energy generation facilities would not apply to reserve land.
5. The proposed siting restrictions would not apply to:
a. Any Non-Rooftop Solar PV Facility or Wind Facility that has been constructed as of the in-force date of this regulation; and
b. Any Non-Rooftop Solar PV Facility or Wind Facility that has received a microFIT, FIT, or Large Renewable Procurement (LRP) Contract (whether or not that facility has been constructed as of the in-force date of this regulation).