Ontario municipalities worried about new power project proposal process

Not enough information, not enough time to evaluate proposals, and it’s the same process as Dalton McGuinty’s say Ontario municipalities

November 21, 2022

Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) has launched a series of procurement initiatives for new electricity supply. In a statement on the IESO website, the goal of the procurement or Requests for Proposals for the long term is:

“The Long-Term RFP (LT RFP) will seek resources that can be in service between 2026 and 2028 to address global and regional needs. This procurement is part of the IESO’s broader Resource Adequacy Framework – an enduring approach to identifying the type of acquisition activity to use to resolve system needs. The framework contemplates a multi-pronged approach to secure resources, generally based on the length of the contract term.”

The first RFP is for 1,000 megawatts (MWs) of power; the release of documents is now scheduled for early December.

But Ontario municipalities are worried about the IESO process. They say it doesn’t allow for enough information for municipalities to look at proposals properly. And, they say, other aspects of the process, such as the need for confirmation of municipal support, are not clear. The Ford government promised that municipal support would be mandatory for new projects, but that’s not what the new process seems to say.

Details needed

The Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) said this in a formal comment to the IESO engagement process in early October:

“Municipal support is a key component of moving a proponent’s project forward. As such, municipal governments must be informed of the type of project, location, technology, and any other information necessary to ensure the municipality can make the most informed choice given their local needs and circumstances.

The approach proposed by the IESO does present challenges as the timeframe to gather municipal support for the rated criteria starts right after the municipal election (October 24th). Councils will be undertaking orientation in November/December 2022, which may make it difficult for fulsome conversations to occur with respect to the proposed resolutions.

That said the concept of a support resolution aligns with other existing municipal decision-making process and will provide Councils with an opportunity to look at the types of technology and projects and make an informed (and binding) decision.

Proclaiming support for the construction and operation of the LT Reliability Project within a truncated timeframe may not provide enough time for all of the information to be presented and questions answered at the Council table. While it is understood that the resolution does not supersede any applicable permits or approvals required for the project in the future, it may put municipalities in a difficult position should challenges with those permits or approvals arise in the future.

The alternative of providing a blanket letter of support that indicates a municipality is in favour of a project (without any details), must not bind the municipality to acceptance of the project without further details. The alternative of allowing for a formal delegation of the issuance of a Municipal Support Confirmation Letter (project-specific) to the Chief Administrative Officer, or equivalent, is appreciated. It is important that Councils and the public be educated on the need for these projects and the types of technology is necessary to prepare for the process and the proponents that are beginning to reach out.”

Community unrest will re-ignite: Deputy Mayor

Individual municipalities were more pointed in their comments. Dutton Dunwich, where the municipality once held a referendum about a proposed wind power project, saw 86 percent of residents reject the proposal, but watched as the IESO granted a contract anyway, claims the process is deeply flawed and in fact unchanged from the McGuinty government years. Dutton Dunwich’s Deputy Mayor Hentz provided the following comment to the IESO:

“The Ford Government stated that Municipalities would be eligible to weigh in on all new projects and give final approval to proceed or not.

  • This RFP Community Engagement as presented, historically reflects the exact process that was defined in the Green Energy Act t, 2009, S.O. 2009, c. 12, Sched. A., which was subsequently repealed on January 1, 2019, to stop approvals for wasteful energy projects where the need for electricity has not been clearly demonstrated; essentially putting the brakes on additional projects that will add additional costs to electricity bills that the people of Ontario simply cannot afford.
  • Using a point system and allowing Proponents to submit without the support of council resolutions will reignite historical community unrest and refuel citizen conflict again. A fair, equitable and democratic engagement process needs to be implemented.
  • Proponents should have Municipal support by resolution prior to any proposal being submitted.”


The municipality of West Elgin passed a formal resolution on the IESO process, and was concerned that municipal support is not clearly stated as mandatory in the new RFP process. West Elgin also stated that local Indigenous communities must be consulted and approve—it is not acceptable for an Indigenous entity hundreds of kilometres away to be counted as supporting the proposal in order to get points in the rated criteria for approval. West Elgin:

“Whereas in 2018, when the Green Energy Act was repealed by the current Provincial Government, the purpose of repealing the act was stated by then Energy Minister Rickford as ‘….restoring planning decisions to Municipalities, ensuring local voices have the final say on energy projects in their communities’.

And Whereas in follow-up to this change in the Green Energy act, as the Municipality of West Elgin revises its Official Plan, we are taking steps to clarify our stance on renewable energy installations within our community.

And Whereas the Municipality of West Elgin currently has an interim control bylaw in place to put a hold on any renewable energy projects, until our Official Plan research and revisions are complete.

Now Therefore it must be clear in the IESO guidance documents that a Support Resolution from the Municipality where the development is proposed, is a mandatory requirement to be awarded a contract.

And Furthermore local planning decisions must be adhered to, for any potential energy development to be successful. The guidance documents are not clear whether a Municipal Support Resolution is mandatory for a contract to be awarded.

And Furthermore Local Indigenous communities, that is those whose Treaty Lands a development is being proposed, must be consulted and must be in support of the development. Indigenous Financial Support from communities located hundreds of kilometers away, is not acceptable.”


Not enough engagement for community

The Town of Tecumseh noted that the single community meeting prescribed in the RFP process is “not enough” for information and for community concerns to be discussed.

“The extent of the distribution of the notice to surrounding land owners seems inadequate and there is no prescribed timeframe for the delivery of this notice.

The notification process should align with Planning Act requirements for the giving of notice for Official Plan and Zoning By-law amendments (i.e. within 120 metres and 20 days prior to meeting being held). Depending on the scale of the project, one public meeting may not be adequate.”


Wind Concerns Ontario has also expressed these and other concerns to the IESO. We added that the selection of Qualified Applicants did not seem to include a review of the history of past development experience and specifically, whether the proponents were in compliance with Renewable Energy Approval requirements. In some cases, the operators of wind power projects in Ontario are delinquent in filing noise audits as required by their approvals, and still others have had audits “under review” for years, which means compliance with regulations has not been verified. Do these companies deserve to get new contracts and more government cash?


The IESO will release new RFP documents in early December.


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