New zoning bylaws to be fast-tracked for 2023 in light of Ontario government’s current new power procurement plan
February 23, 2023
Ottawa City Council voted unanimously yesterday to approve a motion put forward by Ward 21 Rideau-Jock councillor David Brown, and seconded by West Carleton-March councillor Clarke Kelly, to hold off granting municipal approval for any new power project proposals that may come forward as a result of provincial government procurement plans. The motion directs staff to tell proponents that municipal support will not be granted until review by a Standing Committee; the Motion further stipulates that developing zoning bylaws for new power generation installation should be done in the Planning department’s 2023 “Workbook” ahead of 2024-2025 for the new suite of bylaws as a whole.
The deadline for the Independent Electricity System Operator’s first phase of new procurement, for 1,500 megawatts of power, was last Thursday, February 16. The IESO plans another RFP to be launched this spring or summer, for an additional 2,500 megawatts of new power.
The motion passed yesterday stipulates that staff be directed to inform proponents of any new power generation projects: “staff will not bring such requests to Council unless such requests are considered through the relevant Standing Committee, it being understood that the Standing Committee will act in accordance with the timelines provided in the LT1 RFP, furthermore, that Hydro Ottawa and its affiliates, shall be entitled to obtain any Municipal Support Resolution required per the LT1 RFP (or other similar processes), via bilateral discussions with its sole shareholder, the City of Ottawa,”
“staff will bring forward an amendment to the City of Ottawa’s Zoning By-law that implements the intent of the policies in the Official Plan with respect to renewable energy generation facilities and storage by Q4 2023 that is in advance of the municipal Comprehensive Zoning By-law update“.
Ottawa saw only one submission in response to the most recent IESO Request for Proposals, a small Battery Energy Storage System proposed for Upper Dwyer Hill Road. Another, larger battery project is in development for the Cumberland area; the proponent is Brookfield’s Evolugen division. Both projects are supposed to have had public meetings to present project details; the Upper Dwyer Hill Road project meeting notice was only on the company’s website, and no members of the public attended the January 12th meeting.
Ottawa Wind Concerns made several presentations to city committees including the Agricultural and Rural Affairs Committee to warn that the IESO RFP was on the way, and that Ottawa needed to be ready with protective bylaws for large power generation projects such as wind turbines. Ontario’s regulations for noise levels and setbacks for noise and safety have not been changed since 2009, and are generally viewed as inadequate today.
The community group’s advice was rebuffed, however, with one rural councillor claiming in September that no such procurement was on the way. At that time, the IESO RFP process was in the final stages of “engagement.” The first RFP launched December 7, 2022.
Do wind turbines make noise? YES
Rural Ottawa has already experienced a proposal for a large wind power project when a proposal came forward under the Ontario government’s Feed-In Tariff program in 2009. It was for as many as eight 600-foot industrial wind turbines to be located in the North Gower area, to be built by Pro-Wind, a small company based in Germany. Residents rejected the proposal at the time, saying the power generating machines would be too close to homes and the village school. Residents signed a petition and presented it to City Hall; almost every property-owning resident of the North Gower area signed the document.
Interestingly, one of the proponent’s staff was interviewed by then radio host and journalist Mark Sutcliffe who asked, Do the wind turbines make noise?
“Of course they do,” said the project salesperson. “They’re power generators.”
Citizens of rural Ottawa are concerned that new power projects, no matter what the technology, will be located in rural areas. Noise pollution, vibration, loss of valuable farmland, risk to aquifers, and danger to wildlife are all important concerns.
We are trying to respond to community concerns, said Councillor David Brown, “That is really what this is all about.”
The motion, revised prior to Council, is here:
Re / Objet : Clarifying the process of approving new energy projects and infrastructure under the Requests for Proposals from Independent Electricity System Operator
Moved by / Motion de: Councillor D. Brown
Seconded by / Appuyée par: Councillor C. Kelly
WHEREAS the Independent Electricity System Operator has released an Expedited Procurement Process to procure 1.5 gigawatts of electrical capacity by mid-decade and has been engaging with municipalities with respect to Requests for Proposals for a significant number of new projects for energy generation, storage, and infrastructure; and
WHEREAS the Expedited Procurement Process (the E-LT1 RFP) closing February 16, 2023 includes three (3) of thirteen (13) Rated Criteria Points for municipal council support resolutions; and
WHEREAS after February 16, 2023 the Independent Electricity System Operator is planning two more procurement phases totalling 2.8 gigawatts of capacity to be available mid decade; and
WHEREAS the Independent Electricity System Operator requires a Municipal Support Resolution from the municipal council no later than sixty (60) days after the eighteen (18) month anniversary of the Contract Date; and
WHEREAS some Independent Electricity System Operator resources participate in the Ontario electricity market without contracts; and
WHEREAS it is not clear that the inability for a project to receive a “Municipal Support Resolution” will necessarily lead to the revocation of a proponent’s contract; and
WHEREAS Ottawa must decrease its reliance on greenhouse gas-emitting sources of energy, including by increasing local renewable energy generation and battery storage, to achieve its greenhouse gas emission reduction targets; and
WHEREAS the City has received a request for a Municipal Support Resolution for a 5-megawatt/20-megawatt hour battery energy storage system using lithium-ion battery technology at 650 Upper Dwyer Hill Road, Ottawa that is expected to occupy approximately 0.3 acres (0.12 ha) of land, including all required setbacks and spacing; and
WHEREAS municipalities, namely through land use policies in the Official Plan and provisions in the Zoning By-law, set their own priorities with respect to where energy generation, storage, and infrastructure may be permitted; and
WHEREAS increased energy generation, storage, and infrastructure can have significant impacts on local residents that are worth due consideration by Council under a framework in the Zoning By-law that reflects the City’s Official Plan; and
WHEREAS staff will bring forward an amendment to the City of Ottawa’s Zoning By-law that implements the intent of the policies in the Official Plan with respect to renewable energy generation facilities and storage by Q4 2023 that is in advance of the municipal Comprehensive Zoning By-law update;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Mayor, on behalf of Council, write a letter to the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Independent Electricity System Operator to formally request confirmation that projects approved through the LT1 RFP and future procurements shall not proceed without a Municipal Support Resolution from municipal council in the form of an approved motion; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that staff be directed, in consultation with Hydro Ottawa, to come forward with recommendations in advance of the new Zoning By-law to help inform City Council plans for energy generation, storage and infrastructure as a deliverable project in the 2023 Planning, Real Estate and Economic Development Department Workplan; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the appropriate Standing Committees evaluate current and future requests for Municipal Support Resolutions, informed by the recommendations referenced above until amendments have been made to Zoning By-law 2008-250 in Q4 2023; provided, however, that projects proposed by Hydro Ottawa and its affiliates shall be entitled to obtain such Municipal Support Resolution through bilateral discussions with its sole shareholder, the City of Ottawa; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that until such time as amendments have been made to Zoning By-law 2008-250 in Q4 2023, staff be directed to advise any proponents seeking a Municipal Support Resolution through the LT1 RFP that staff will not bring such requests to Council unless such requests are considered through the relevant Standing Committee, it being understood that the Standing Committee will act in accordance with the timelines provided in the LT1 RFP, furthermore, that Hydro Ottawa and its affiliates, shall be entitled to obtain any Municipal Support Resolution required per the LT1 RFP (or other similar processes), via bilateral discussions with its sole shareholder, the City of Ottawa.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that a copy of this motion be sent to the Premier of Ontario, the Ontario Minister of Energy, and the Association of Municipalities of Ontario.