Electricity lines in Nation Rise wind power project may violate the law and policy
April 9, 2019
Wind Concerns Ontario has discovered through research that the length of the distribution lines planned for the Nation Rise wind power project in North Stormont is in violation of both the Electricity Act and Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks policy.
The length of the distribution lines as planned is 125 km; the allowed length is 50 km.
The relevant section of the Electricity Act is as follows:
(4) and (5) of Electricity Act, 1998
ONTARIO REGULATION 160/99 under the Electricity Act
Definitions and Exemptions
(4) For the purposes of the definition of “renewable energy generation facility” in the Act, the following associated or ancillary equipment, systems and technologies are prescribed:
- Transmission or distribution lines of less than 50 kilometres in length that are associated with or ancillary to a renewable energy generation facility.
- Transformer stations or distribution stations that are associated with or ancillary to a renewable energy generation facility.
- Any transportation systems that are associated with or ancillary to the provision of access to a renewable energy generation facility, during the construction, installation, use, operation, changing or retiring of a renewable energy generation facility. O. Reg. 328/09, s. 1 (2).
The prescribed 50 km length is also mentioned in a regulation as part of the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks “Technical Guide” as follows:
Technical Guide to Renewable Energy Approvals
4.3.1. Scope of Transmission or Distribution Lines Ancillary to the Project Subject to the qualifications discussed below, transmission or distribution lines ancillary to the renewable energy generation facilities are included as part of the facility and thus must be considered in an application for an REA. These facility components will contribute to the size and dimensions of the project location for the purposes of setbacks and will require assessment for negative environmental effects that will or are likely to occur from their installation, operation or decommissioning in the REA application.
Since transmission and distribution lines are interconnected with the broader electrical grid, it is important to describe what is meant by an “ancillary line” so that REA requirements are applied appropriately. Ancillary equipment for renewable energy generation facilities are defined in O. Reg. 160/99 under the Electricity Act, 1998. Transmission and distribution lines are defined as lines 50 km in length or less ancillary to the renewable energy generation facility. [Source: O.Reg.160/99, s. 1 (5)3)]
As well, this excerpt is from a letter that was sent to the lawyer for the White Pines appeal from Sarah Paul, Director, Environmental Approvals Access and Service Integration Branch, Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, May 14, 2014: “It is the Ministry’s position that the limit of 50 km applies separately in respect of each type of line (transmission or distribution) in order for them to be considered part of the facility. Therefore, the length of the transmission line and distribution line independently (and not combined) must be less than 50 km.”
It would appear that according to the regulations and government policy, the Nation Rise wind power project should not have been granted a licence to generate electricity, and neither should it have received a Renewable Energy Approval.
“Here we have yet another example of how these projects appear to somehow skate through the application process and get an approval regardless of the rules,” says Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson. “This isn’t the only project in which the distribution lines exceed the allowed length—how does this keep happening? Where is the oversight and accountability?”
The Nation Rise project received its Renewable Energy Approval during the last days of the Wynne government prior to the 2018 election, an approval that was full of “conditions” for the developer to meet; then, while the new government was elected but not yet sworn in, the Independent Electricity System Operator or IESO determined Nation Rise had met all its “developmental milestones” and was given a Notice To Proceed.
The project has gone through every appeal possible and is currently the subject of a direct appeal to the Minister of Environment, Conservation and Parks.
Wind Concerns Ontario has written to the ministers of Energy and Environment to request clarification.