On October 28, 2015, Minister Chiarelli introduced Bill 135, which is titled the Energy Statute Amendment Act, 2015. The proposed new legislation proposes a number of changes to the Green Energy Act, 2009, the Electricity Act, 1998 and the Ontario Energy Board Act, 1998.
The proposed new legislation addresses a number of topics. Four of the main items addressed are:
- Long term energy planning: Bill 135 would amend the Electricity Act, 1998 to give the Minister of Energy (Minister), rather than the IESO, the responsibility for developing a long-term energy plan at least once each period specified within Regulations. The IESO’s role in developing the long-term energy plan would be to provide technical reports, when requested by the Minister. While there would be an obligation on the Minister to consult with consumers, distributors, generators, transmitters and aboriginal peoples, there is no requirement that the long-term energy plan be reviewed by the OEB, as was the case previously in respect of the integrated power system plan.
- Role of the IESO and OEB in relation to the long-term energy plan: Bill 135 would amend the Electricity Act, 1998 to give the Minister the power to issue directives to the IESO and to the OEB respecting the implementation of the long-term energy plan and requiring the IESO and the OEB to submit implementation plans for approval. Where required in an implementation plan, the IESO would be empowered to enter into contracts for the procurement of a variety of items, some of which go beyond what is contemplated in current procurement provision of the Electricity Act, 1998. For example, the IESO will be empowered to enter into contracts for procurement of electricity storage and for changes in electricity demand, as well as transmission systems (including the development of such systems).
- Feed-in tariff program: The current provision of the Electricity Act, 1998 under which the Minister can direct the IESO to develop a feed-in tariff program is proposed to be repealed. However, the existing Minister’s direction to establish a feed-in tariff program, and any program or thing established or done in accordance with that direction, will be unaffected.
- Energy conservation: Under proposed amendments to the Green Energy Act, 2009, there would be new reporting requirements, and water conservation (efficient use of water) would be addressed in certain provisions of that statute. The proposed amendments contemplate that Regulations may be created to require a “prescribed person” to report to the Ministry of Energy about energy consumption, water use, ratings or other performance metrics in respect of energy consumption and water use. There may also be verification requirements for the reported information. The proposed amendments would require electricity, gas and water distributors to make available prescribed information about consumption of electricity, gas and water.
In the coming weeks, the Legislature will debate the Energy Statute Amendment Act, 2015. We will report further on the implications of the proposed new legislation, and the timing for its implementation.