Ontario Supports Clean, Renewable and Affordable Energy

Helping Communities and Supporting Clean Energy with Changes to Waterpower Class Environmental Assessments

February 24, 2022

CAMPBELLFORD — As part of ongoing efforts to modernize the province’s 50-year-old environmental assessment program to better serve the needs of Ontarians now and into the future, the Ontario government announced changes to build low-risk waterpower projects faster, such as such as expansions or changes to an existing facility.

Ontario has one of the cleanest electricity systems in the world, with more than 90 per cent of electricity generation being emissions-free, and the changes to Class Environmental Assessment for Waterpower Projects, which take effect today, will help generate the clean, renewable and affordable hydroelectricity needed to meet the province’s long-term needs.

“We want to speed up the development of sustainable, renewable energy projects that will actually benefit our communities,” said David Piccini, Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks. “Waterpower is a clean renewable energy source, which is paving the way to providing reliable and affordable power to communities and creating green jobs across the province.”

The changes will align the level of risk with the level of assessment to ensure strong environmental oversight and protection. The changes also include creating a streamlined process for identifying waterpower projects that are expected to have no or short-term environmental impacts, such as implementing new technology, undertaking a small dam retrofit or expansion; and, exempting them from environmental assessment requirements, which can often take months or even years to complete. These changes will reduce the time and cost it takes to get projects underway, which will help create jobs that support Ontario’s green economy and deliver clean and reliable energy to communities across the province.

“Hydroelectric power generation has been serving Ontario’s electricity needs for well over a century, helping us to achieve one of the cleanest electricity grids in the world,” said Todd Smith, Minister of Energy. “These changes to the waterpower Class EA process will help streamline new waterpower opportunities that can further contribute to our province’s clean, reliable and affordable energy future.”

“This improvement to our Class Environmental Assessment will encourage new investment in infrastructure across the province while maintaining environmental sustainability”, said Paul Norris, President of the Ontario Waterpower Association. “Waterpower was Ontario’s original source of electricity and these perpetual assets will continue to provide affordable, reliable energy for decades to come.”


Quick Facts

  • Over the past three years, Ontario has been updating the almost 50-year-old environmental assessment program to support building safer and stronger communities. Learn about other changes Ontario is making to modernize the environmental assessment program.
  • class environmental assessment sets out a standardized planning process for classes or groups of activities. It applies to projects that are carried out routinely and have predictable environmental effects that can be readily managed.
  • These changes were developed in partnership with holders of Class Environmental Assessments (Class EA) and focus on eliminating duplication and streamlining processes.
  • The Ontario Waterpower Association’s Class EA for Waterpower Projects sets out a standard planning process for the existing 224 waterpower facilities across the province and any new proposed projects.


Related Topics

Environment and Energy

Learn more about how Ontario protects and restores wildlife and the environment. Includes information on conservation and the electricity system. Learn more