OPA-IESO Planning and Siting Recommendations
On May 6, 2013, the Minister of Energy asked the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) and the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) to work together to develop recommendations to improve how large energy infrastructure projects are sited and to include local voices in the planning and siting process.
The OPA and IESO released their report, "Engaging Local Communities in Ontario's Electricity Planning Continuum - Enhancing Regional Planning and Siting" on Aug. 1, 2013. The report included 18 recommendations that reflected feedback from over 1,250 Ontarians.
The report stressed the need for:
- Strengthening processes for early and sustained engagement with local governments and the public
- Providing local governments and communities a greater voice and responsibility in planning and siting
- Ensuring that ministries involved in planning are well co-ordinated.
The report includes a number of other recommendations that fall into four themes:
- Bringing Communities to the Table: foster ongoing relationships with First Nations and Métis and recognize the Duty to Consult; create regional electricity planning Advisory Committees; invite participation of local representatives in regional electricity technical planning working group; develop stakeholder engagement strategies and plans with Advisory Committee input
- Linking Local and Provincial Planning: integrate electricity needs into relevant municipal plans; incorporate relevant municipal information into regional electricity plans; promote community energy planning; recognize broader provincial and local interests in electricity system planning
- Reinforcing the Planning/Siting Continuum: facilitate a seamless transition from planning to siting; consider broader criteria in the generation procurement process, such as local priorities; strengthen review process - have the Ontario Energy Board approve generic procurement processes; review mechanisms for planning and procurement
- Enhancing Electricity Awareness and Improving Access to Information: increase awareness of electricity needs and how these needs can be met; increase transparency of, and access to, data and information.
The 18th recommendation focuses on implementation. The OPA and IESO recently submitted an action plan to the Minster of Energy that addresses the steps they will take to make the changes recommended in the report.