Ontario streamlines hydropower site release program

Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources has acted to reduce the complexity, cost, and administrative burdens on developers proposing small hydro projects on government land.

The province announced amendments to its Waterpower Site Release and Development Review Policy and its Waterpower Site Release and Development Review Procedure, effective May 21.

MNR supports new hydropower generation by providing opportunities to develop sites on government-owned land where no dams currently exist, and by using existing government-owned dams for generation of electricity.

The agency said it recognized 2004 power development and site release policies contemplated a fully deregulated electricity market. However, it said that approach anticipated greater competition than has occurred under the current �mixed market� approach. As a result, developers, aboriginal communities, and staff have found that for smaller sites, MNR’s site release process is time-consuming, somewhat onerous, and expensive, it said.

�The administrative changes undertaken will provide a more efficient process for the waterpower industry, aboriginal communities, and staff, facilitating the achievement of the government targets for 15,700 MW of clean, renewable energy in Ontario’s supply mix by 2025,� MNR said.

There are four site release processes: direct site release; non-competitive site release; competitive site release; and site release of MNR dams.

The new non-competitive site release category involves proposed developments greater than 1 MW but no more than 10 MW for sites located entirely on provincial crown land. It is based on an effort to streamline methods, such as those taken in Ontario’s Standard Offer program for renewables, and reflects experience and advice over two years. Standard Offer provides a purchase guarantee for electricity generated from hydropower facilities of 10 MW or less. (HNN 2/28/07)

Consistent with original policy and procedure for the program, the new non-competitive site release process does not apply to sites within the Winisk, Albany, Severn, or Attawapiskat river basins, and some areas of Moose River Basin.

The existing direct site release process for sites less than 1 MW on non-crown lands, and the competitive site release process for sites greater than 10 MW of installed capacity will continue to apply as in the past. In the fourth category, dams owned by MNR will be released on a first-come, first-served basis.

The revised policy and procedure documents are available on MNR’s Renewable Energy Internet site, www.mnr.gov.on.ca/mnr/renewable/publications.html. Supporting documents, including an outline of the application process and forms, are available on MNR’s Renewable Energy Extranet site. Registration for site is required at www.mnr.gov.on.ca/mnr/renewable/waterpower.html.

Province prepares for new waterpower site solicitation

The government said it intends to begin accepting applications and expressions of interest for new applications for waterpower site development May 22. Applications and expressions of interest will be accepted until March 31, 2008, it said.

Announcements about the solicitation for new waterpower applications will be available on MNR’s Renewable Extranet site, www.mnr.gov.on.ca/mnr/renewable/extranet.html.

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