The new Canadian Energy Regulator Act (CER Act) forms part of Bill C-69, which had its first reading in the House of Commons on February 8, 2018. The Act, among other things, provides for the regulation of renewable energy projects and power lines in Canada’s offshore. The Canadian Energy Regulator (CER) will be the regulatory body responsible for offshore wind development. I've highlighted some key elements of the CER Act as it pertains to offshore wind development:
Section 2, Definitions
offshore renewable energy project means any of the following that are carried on in the offshore area:
(a) any research or assessment conducted in relation to the exploitation or potential exploitation of a renewable resource to produce energy;
(b) any exploitation of a renewable resource to produce energy;
(c) any storage of energy produced from a renewable resource; or
(d) any transmission of such energy, other than the transmission of electricity to a province or a place outside Canada.
Section 57, Involvement of Indigenous peoples of Canada
The Regulator may establish committees or programs for the purpose of enhancing the involvement of the Indigenous peoples of Canada and Indigenous organizations in respect of pipelines, power lines and offshore renewable energy projects as well as abandoned pipelines.
Part 5: Offshore Renewable Energy Projects and Offshore Power Lines:
Section 298 (2) Contents of application
An application must include any information that may be required by the Regulator, or prescribed by regulation, with respect to the proposed work or activity and to the offshore renewable energy project or offshore power line, including information with respect to any facility, equipment, system or vessel related to the project or power line.
Section 298 (3) Factors to consider
In determining whether to issue an authorization, the Commission must take into account — in light of, among other things, any traditional knowledge of the Indigenous peoples of Canada that has been provided to the Commission and scientific information and data — all considerations that appear to it to be relevant and directly related to the offshore renewable energy project or offshore power line, including
(a) the environmental effects, including any cumulative environmental effects;
(b) the safety and security of persons and the protection of property and the environment;
(c) the health, social and economic effects, including with respect to the intersection of sex and gender with other identity factors;
(d) the interests and concerns of the Indigenous peoples of Canada, including with respect to their current use of lands and resources for traditional purposes;
(e) the effects on the rights of the Indigenous peoples of Canada recognized and affirmed by section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982;
(f) environmental agreements entered into by the Government of Canada; and
(g) any relevant assessment referred to in section 92, 93 or 95 of the Impact Assessment Act.
A note on impact assessment: New energy projects requiring an impact assessment would undergo a single, integrated process, carried out jointly by the new Impact Assessment Agency of Canada and the new CER. In other words, “One project, one assessment.” See my previous post on some highlights from the new Impact Assessment Act, including timelines, substitution, and Indigenous engagement.
Section 298 (4) Shorter timelines
For projects that are not subject to the new Impact Assessment Act, legislated timelines would be reduced from 450 days to 300 days.
The Government of Canada has compiled The New Canadian Energy Regulator Handbook to assist Canadians in understanding the role of the new regulator.
Final thought: While the legislation enables offshore wind development, regulations and policies have to be developed (federally and provincially) before we have a complete framework for offshore wind development in Canada.