November 22, 2004

Ontario plan will expand waterpower development sites, opportunities

In order to encourage development of new waterpower sites in Ontario, the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) is issuing: a 30-day request for Expressions of Interest to determine potential sites; and a Request for Proposal for development of seven projects which are compatible with the government's green energy goals. The ministry is also seeking to expand waterpower development opportunities through a Request for Qualifications on two dams it owns which have potential to produce hydropower. The dams are on Crown land in southern Ontario.

Natural Resources Minister David Ramsay also announced a new Waterpower Site Release and Development Review policy which is designed to establish a framework for developing Ontario's waterpower resources in a way that encourages aboriginal economic development, increases the amount of energy coming from renewable sources and supports sustainable development within an ecological context. Developed with extensive feedback from Aboriginal communities and stakeholders, the policy provides for the release of new waterpower opportunities (where there are no existing structures) on Crown land in Ontario. In includes two categories of release: a competitive site release and a direct site release.

The competitive site release process applies if:

* the proposed development has an installed capacity of greater than one megawatt (MW);

* the development is not proposed by the adjacent land owner; and

* the proposed development is not located within the basins of the Severn, Winisk (Weenusk), Attawapiskat or Albany rivers.

Applicants will have 30 days to submit an Expression of Interest (EOI) after the call for EOIs has been announced. They will be required to describe their proposed site development proposal by completing a Competitive Release package. The ministry will review the submissions and select a successful applicant from the qualified submissions.

The direct site release is a non-competitive process and applies if the proposed development has an installed capacity of less than or equal to one megawatt or is proposed by the adjacent landowner. This process also applies if the proposed development is less than 25 MW in capacity, is located within the Severn, Winisk (Weenusk), Attawapiskat or Albany river basins, and is proposed by a local aboriginal community or communities).

The ministry will not consider applications for development within these river basins from applicants other than the local aboriginal community. At this time, individual developments greater than 25 MW will not be considered with the river basins listed above. Applicants can start the direct site release process by submitting a Direct Site Release Application for Crown Land and an application fee to the local MNR district office. The Ministry will review the application and determine whether or not the opportunity can be released for development.

After initiating either of the site release processes, interested waterpower developers must submit a development plan for review, outlining financial capability, technical expertise and feasibility, aboriginal participation, response to the site description and consulting, permitting and approvals. Successful applicants must also obtain the approvals required under relevant legislation such as the Environmental Assessment Act, Lakes and Rivers Improvement Act and Public Lands Act.

Full details on the policy and procedures, including applications and forms, may be viewed on-line at www.mnr.gov.on.ca/MNR/water/waterpower.html.

Responding to the initiative, the Ontario Waterpower Association (OWA) said the province's waterpower industry is poised to participate fully in the government's plan to encourage development of potential new generating sites and the redevelopment and expansion of existing hydraulic sites.

"The waterpower industry has been awaiting this initiative eagerly and is anxious to pursue the new opportunities it presents to develop more waterpower sites," said OWA president Paul Norris, adding, "If waterpower is to help the province achieve its renewable energy objectives, we must optimize existing generating sites and develop new generating potential."

The OWA says Ontario currently derives more than 25% of its electricity from waterpower and projects that realizing the full potential of the Ministry's plan could increase this capacity to 35% or more. Formed in May 2001, the OWA represents more than 95% of Ontario waterpower producers. More information is available from Paul Norris of the OWA, 866/743-1500, Web site www.owa.ca.

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