Ontario amends Renewable Energy Approvals regulation

December 22, 2010

The Ontario government has published amendments to the Renewable Energy Approvals Regulation (O. Reg. 359/09) that will take effect on January 1, 2011.  We reported on an earlier version of the proposed amendment in an October blog posting.

The most significant changes in the amended regulation concern noise receptors and setback requirements for wind faculties. As a result of the amendments, the term “overnight accommodation” in the definition of noise receptors will be replaced with a definition of “dwelling” based on the definition in the Building Code. The definition of “dwelling” was also modified by replacing the words “intended to be used” with “capable of being used”.These changes appear to set a higher threshold for what structures qualify as a dwelling.

The well-publicized 550 metre wind turbine setback prohibitions in the original regulation required proponents to consider all noise receptors at the time of construction and did not contemplate that the surrounding conditions could change between the time of approval and time of construction. This created uncertainty for proponents as they could not necessarily rely upon an approval as compliance with the setback requirement at the time of construction. This concern has been addressed by these amendments, which only require proponents to consider noise impacts to surrounding noise receptors that existed as of the date the location of the facility was made public.To allow the MOE to assess the cumulative impacts of the facility, the amended regulation will also require proponents to consider all existing and publicly known projects in the surrounding area when complying with the noise setback requirements and determining a site plan.

Other changes under the amendments affect the public notifications required for renewable energy projects and revise the requirements for municipal consultations.

A summary of the changes has been posted on the environmental registry.

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