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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Renewable Energy Approval Fees in Ontario - Notice

Environmental Bill of Rights Registry Notice - Renewable Energy Approval Fees

The Ontario Ministry of the Environment has the ability to charge fees for Renewable Energy Approval applications under the Environmental Protection Act. These fees will be established through a Minister’s Order and are therefore exempt from public posting under the Environmental Bill of Rights, 1993. However, to ensure clarity and transparency for the regulated community and the general public and for consistency with the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade’s Business Registry and the Environmental Registry, the Ministry of the Environment is posting the fees and associated refunds for different classes of Renewable Energy Approvals on both Registries.

The Green Energy and Green Economy Act, 2009 was passed in the Legislature on May 14, 2009. The Act places priority on expanding Ontario’s use of clean and renewable sources of energy, including wind, water, solar, biomass and biogas power. As a key pillar in supporting the development of Ontario’s green economy, on September 24, 2009 the Ontario government introduced O. Reg. 359/09 (Renewable Energy Approvals under Part V.0.1 of the Environmental Protection Act. This regulation offers an approach to regulating renewable energy generation facilities that is based on transparency and clear, up-front provincial rules designed to ensure that the environment and human health are protected.

The Renewable Energy Approval simplifies the number and types of approvals required for new renewable energy projects, integrating environmental, health and safety matters previously dealt with by a number of provincial, municipal and proponent-driven processes into one process. Previous approvals processes had associated fees; e.g. the Ministry previously charged fees for Certificates of Approvals for renewable energy projects before the introduction of the Renewable Energy Approval in September 2009. In addition, the Renewable Energy Approval incorporates analysis of information that must be reviewed by other ministries (e.g. natural heritage assessments) and feedback from the mandatory municipal consultation requirements (e.g. site planning).

The Ministry has committed to a six month service guarantee for reviewing and providing a decision on complete applications. The six month service guarantee provides certainty for proponents, reduces proponents’ opportunity costs, and reduces Ministry approval times.

Purpose of the Notice:

The purpose of this notice is to ensure that industry and the public are made aware of the Renewable Energy Approval fees before they take effect on March 15, 2011.

The Ministry has the ability to charge fees for Renewable Energy Approval applications under the Environmental Protection Act. Section 179.1 of the Environmental Protection Act states that, “the Minister may establish and require a payment of fees in respect of any matter under this Act”. A Minister’s Order will be issued imposing the fees and associated refunds for different classes of Renewable Energy Approvals.

Who pays Renewable Energy Approval fees?

Only entities, companies or individuals, who want to engage in a renewable energy generation project, as defined in Section 47.3 of the Environmental Protection Act are subject to the Renewable Energy Approval and associated fees.

Some types of smaller renewable energy projects are not subject to the Renewable Energy Approval, or the fee. These projects include
  • Roof-top and building mounted solar PV;
  • Ground-mounted solar PV under 12 kilowatts;
  • Wind turbines under 3 kilowatts;
  • Regulated anaerobic digestion facilities;
  • Farms with an approved Nutrient Management Strategy that would not have required a Certificate of Approval under the old approvals systems.

How were Renewable Energy Approval fees developed?

The fees have been set to help recover the province’s costs to manage the Renewable Energy Approval program while encouraging renewable energy development. The Renewable Energy Approval fee represents the estimated cost to the Ministry to review a Renewable Energy Approval application. The fees are based on staff time required to review the application for completeness and conduct a technical review associated with each class of Renewable Energy Approval.

The Renewable Energy Approval fees have attempted to balance cost-recovery with the development of the renewable energy sector by creating fee classes and capping the Renewable Energy Approval fee for small-scale and farm-based projects, including:
  • Solar – Class 3 (solar PV installation 500 kilowatts or less);
  • Wind – Class 2 (micro/small turbine, under 50 kilowatts);
  • Anaerobic Digestion – Class 1 (on-farm, farm materials);
  • Anaerobic Digestion – Class 2 (on-farm, ‘green bin’, biomass & farm materials);
  • Thermal Treatment – Class 1 (on-farm, wood burning); and
  • Thermal Treatment – Class 2 (on-farm, wood and biomass burning)

Renewable Energy Approval Fees:
 
The REA fees are based on the class of Renewable Energy Approval, as outlined in Ontario Regulation 359/09 (as amended by Ontario Regulation 521/10), and includes solar, wind and biomass electricity generating facilities. The proposed REA application review fees per class are:

Renewable Energy Approval Class and Associated Fees:
  • Solar – Class 3 (Solar PV installation 500 kilowatts or less): $1,000
  • Solar – Class 3 (Solar farm): $12,844
  • Wind – Class 2 (Micro/small turbine, under 50kW): $1,000
  • Wind – Class 3 (Medium sized turbine, over 50kW): $10,030
  • Wind – Class 4 (On-shore commercial wind farm): $40,000
  • Wind – Class 4 (On-shore wind farm over 50 MW): $56,458
  • Wind – Class 5 (Off-shore commercial wind farm): $67,905
  • Anaerobic Digestion – Class 1 (on-farm, farm materials): $1,000
  • Anaerobic Digestion – Class 2 (on-farm, ‘green bin’ and biomass & farm materials): $1,000
  • Anaerobic Digestion – Class 3 (Industrial facility): $27,896
  • Biogas (Landfill gas): $22,266
  • Biofuel (Liquids, bio-diesel): $22,266
  • Thermal Treatment – Class 1 (Wood burning): $22,782
  • Thermal Treatment – Class 1 (On-farm, wood burning): $1,000
  • Thermal Treatment – Class 2 (On-farm, wood and biomass burning): $1,000
  • Thermal Treatment – Class 3 (Commercial biomass burning): $26,311
  • Administrative Changes: $300

Renewable Energy Approval Refunds

A Renewable Energy Approval applicant would be eligible to receive a partial refund if the Renewable Energy Approval application is not formally accepted for a technical review. If the application is returned to the applicant because it is considered incomplete, the application will be returned with a refund based on the Renewable Energy Approval class.

Refunds are not applicable to the following small and farm-based facilities as the cost to review an application for a technical review exceeds the Renewable Energy Approval fee:
  • Solar – Class 3 (solar PV installation 500 kilowatts or less);
  • Anaerobic Digestion – Class 1 (on-farm, farm materials);
  • Anaerobic Digestion – Class 2 (on-farm, ‘green bin’, biomass & farm materials);
  • Thermal Treatment – Class 1 (on-farm, wood burning); and
  • Thermal Treatment – Class 2 (on-farm, wood and biomass burning)
Once a Renewable Energy Approval application is formally accepted for a technical review refunds will not be offered, even for withdrawn applications

Renewable Energy Approval Class and Associated Refunds

  • Solar – Class 3 (Solar farm): $8,990
  • Wind – Class 2 (Micro/small turbine, under 50kW): $380
  • Wind – Class 3 (Medium sized turbine, over 50kW): $6,642
  • Wind – Class 4 (On-shore commercial wind farm): $35,260
  • Wind – Class 4 (On-shore wind farm over 50 MW): $49,390
  • Wind – Class 5 (Off-shore commercial wind farm): $59,906
  • Anaerobic Digestion – Class 3 (Industrial facility): $21,249
  • Biogas (Landfill gas): $16,550
  • Biofuel (Liquids, bio-diesel): $16,550
  • Thermal Treatment – Class 1 (Wood burning): $18,575
  • Thermal Treatment – Class 3 (Commercial biomass burning): $19,355