Large-Scale, Ground-Oriented Solar Energy Facilities

The following is an excerpt from the Landscaping and Site Design Guidelines for Large-Scale, Ground-Oriented Solar Energy Facilities.

Since the Green Energy Act was passed in 2009, most renewable energy projects are exempt from most Planning Act approvals, and have instead been subject to a provincial-led approval process. Part of the Renewable Energy Approval (REA) process set up by the Province of Ontario includes consultation with affected municipalities. Developers of renewable energy projects must submit specific materials to the municipality within a certain timeframe, and consult with the municipality. This includes having the municipality complete the Municipal Consultation Form provided by the Province, which the developer must then submit with their REA application.

The purpose of these guidelines is to outline the minimum standards that the municipality would ask for with respect to the landscaping and site design for solar energy facilities in their comments to the Province as part of the REA process.

The guidelines apply to large-scale, ground-oriented solar energy facilities, where the generation of electricity is the primary use of the property, excluding MicroFIT projects. These types of facilities cover large amounts of land, and can have significant impacts on the surrounding environment, particularly in rural areas that do not generally contain such large-scale facilities. The guidelines are intended as a starting point in helping to mitigate the visual impact that these solar energy facilities have on the landscape.

Support in Principle for Rooftop Solar Applications

The Ontario Power Authority (OPA) offers contracts for projects generating more than 10 kW to renewable energy producers through its FIT (Feed-in Tariff) Program. The second version of this program, FIT 2.0, was released on August 12, 2012.

As part of this new program, the OPA has encouraged applicants to FIT 2.0 to seek support from municipal councils across Ontario for their renewable energy projects. In doing so, applying projects that have support will be given ‘points' towards a higher priority for the project to be awarded a contract by the OPA.

On September 18, 2012, Kingston City Council passed a resolution offering support-in-principle for all rooftop-mounted solar applications proposed in the City of Kingston. 

Applicants to the OPA for rooftop-mounted solar projects in Kingston may download the resolution and accompanying bylaw: