Ontario is seeking input on proposed rules for offshore wind turbines, including keeping them at least 5 km from the shoreline. A shoreline exclusion zone would be comparable with proposals by many U.S. states that border the Great Lakes.
The Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) has expressed concern about the implications of the Ontario government's new proposed 5 km setback for offshore wind energy developments in Ontario. If implemented, this decision will prevent several proposed offshore wind energy projects from proceeding in their current form.
‘It will be critical for the Ontario government to ensure that any new regulatory framework provides opportunities for existing offshore wind energy project proponents to build on the work they have undertaken to date to make offshore wind energy a reality in Ontario,’ says Robert Hornung, president of CanWEA. ‘If not, Ontario's early lead in the pursuit of offshore wind energy opportunities in the Great Lakes will be challenged by the many U.S. states now also actively encouraging such development.’
CanWEA will be reviewing and responding to these proposals, with a view to proposing changes targeted at maintaining investor confidence in Ontario's offshore wind energy policy framework while, at the same time, facilitating and ensuring the responsible and sustainable development of offshore wind energy in Ontario.
In addition, the Ministry of Natural Resources is undertaking a review of Ontario's current process for making Crown land available for offshore wind projects. This review will include consideration of where, when and how the government makes Crown land available.
Another proposed rule would require turbine developers to complete a comprehensive application process. This would include addressing potential impacts to endangered and threatened species and their habitat, significant wildlife habitats, users of Crown land, flooding and erosion.
All offshore wind projects would be subject to Ontario's Renewable Energy Approvals regulation, which requires extensive environmental reports; public, municipal and Aboriginal consultation; as well as noise assessments.
The public and industry can comment on the proposal on the province's environmental registry (Registry number 011-0089) for the next 60 days. Public and industry consultation sessions will also be held starting in the fall. Dates and locations are expected to be available soon.