Infosheet: Planning for Electricity Infrastructure

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Spring 2015

Provincial Policy Statement, 2014

The Provincial Policy Statement, 2014 (PPS 2014) provides policy direction on matters of provincial interest related to land use planning. It is issued under section 3 of the Planning Act and pertains to all decisions in respect of the exercise of any authority that affects a planning matter made on or after April 30, 2014.

The PPS 2014 reinforces the link between electricity infrastructure planning and land use planning. It also promotes the efficient and coordinated use of land, resources, infrastructure and public service facilities in Ontario communities. Electricity infrastructure policies in the PPS 2014 include:

  • Using a coordinated, integrated and comprehensive approach when dealing with a range of planning matters, including electricity generation facilities and transmission and distribution systems (1.2.1 d)
  • Coordinating and integrating planning for infrastructure and electricity generation facilities and transmission and distribution systems with land use planning so that they are financially viable over their life cycle and available to meet current and projected needs. (1.6.1)
  • Planning for and protecting corridors and rights-of-way for infrastructure, including transportation, transit and electricity generation facilities and transmission systems to meet current and projected needs. (1.6.8.1)
  • Not permitting development in planned corridors that could preclude or negatively affect the use of the corridor for the purpose(s) for which it was identified. (1.6.8.3)
  • Providing opportunities for the development of energy supply including electricity generation facilities and transmission and distribution systems, to accommodate current and projected needs. (1.6.11.1)
  • Promoting renewable energy systems and alternative energy systems, where feasible, in accordance with provincial and federal requirements. (1.6.11.2)
  • Optimizing the long-term availability and use of land, resources, infrastructure, electricity generation facilities and transmission and distribution systems, and public service facilities to support long-term economic prosperity. (1.7.1 b)

The Importance of Planning for Electricity to the Province

Clean, affordable and reliable electricity is essential to communities and for a dynamic and innovative business climate – and stronger linkages between electricity planning and land use planning are critical to meet these objectives.

A key objective of the PPS 2014 is to ensure that planning for infrastructure is included in municipalities’ land use plans in order to meet the projected needs of the community. This includes planning for electricity infrastructure in a coordinated, efficient and cost-effective manner that accommodates projected needs.

Did you know?

In 2013, the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) introduced changes to the electricity planning process that focused on identifying regional electricity needs, and any resulting conservation and demand management (CDM), generation, or transmission and distribution planning options. The changes enhanced the process by ensuring that transmitters, distributors and the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) work together to identify solutions to electricity needs. See the Planning for Electricity Needs in Ontario section for an outline of this process.

In the same year, the former Ontario Power Authority and the IESO recommended changes to the planning process in a report, “Engaging Local Communities in Ontario’s Electricity Planning Continuum”. These changes enhance how regional electricity planning and siting is carried out in the province, in particular by:

  • Bringing communities to the table, ensuring early and sustained engagement with municipalities, First Nation and Métis communities, and the public;
  • Linking local and provincial planning, providing local governments and communities with a greater voice and responsibility in planning and siting; and
  • Reinforcing the planning continuum.

Better coordination with other infrastructure projects and earlier involvement of the local community can also improve the planning and siting process for electricity infrastructure, and result in greater benefits for communities. Ontario’s 2013 Long-Term Energy Plan confirmed that municipalities and Aboriginal communities will be encouraged to develop their own community energy plans to identify conservation opportunities and infrastructure priorities.

This Infosheet is intended to complement the PPS 2014. It provides an overview of Ontario’s electricity system and the formalized regional electricity planning process to support the integration of electricity needs into local plans.

How Does Ontario’s Electricity System Work?

Electricity planning in Ontario begins with a forecast of electricity demand. Electricity system planners must ensure that there is sufficient electricity to meet peak demand conditions efficiently and reliably. To meet demand, system planners consider a variety of electricity supply resources, existing or planned conservation efforts, enhancements to transmission and distribution networks that could help meet this need.

Transmission and distribution networks form the backbone of the province’s electricity system as they link electricity consumers with power generators. There is a need to sustain and renew the existing assets, connect new loads and adapt to changing requirements that includes closure of major generation facilities, and the connection of new renewable resources and distributed generation.

Transmission infrastructure has long development timelines and durable assets that can last 40-50 years or more. The transmission system is comprised of high voltage lines, towers, transformers and other equipment used to transport electricity at voltages above 50 kilovolts (kV). Power generators, large industrial consumers and local distribution companies (LDCs) typically connect directly to the transmission system.

Electricity delivery to homes, businesses, schools and hospitals takes place at the distribution system level and is the responsibility of LDCs. The distribution system delivers electricity on lower-voltage networks operating at 50 kV and below. Like other power system facility owners, LDCs face challenges and opportunities associated with growth and urbanization, incorporating increased local generation, managing aging infrastructure and adopting new technologies.

Planning for Electricity Needs in Ontario

Regional planning is a process for identifying and meeting local electricity needs and maintaining reliable system-wide electricity supply. It starts with identifying electricity needs for a region and then investigating options to address those needs including CDM, local generation, and transmission and distribution.

A key objective of the PPS 2014 is to ensure that planning for infrastructure, including electricity generation facilities and transmission and distributions systems, will be included in municipalities’ land use plans so that the infrastructure meets the projected needs of the community. Both ongoing engagement and reports produced through the regional planning process can inform this planning.

This emphasis on coordination was also demonstrated when the OEB and the province made changes to its electricity planning process in 2013.

There are 21 electricity regions in Ontario, as identified by an OEB working group for electricity planning purposes. Regions often include more than one municipality and more than one LDC. By 2018, the electricity needs in all 21 regions in Ontario will have been assessed, initiated by each region’s transmitter (e.g. Hydro One).


21 Electricity Regions in Ontario

The Needs Screening process is the first formal step of the regional planning process, and is led by the lead transmitter for the region. Forecasts that feed into a Needs Screening report are informed by growth, land use and other plans.

If the Needs Screening report indicates that coordinated regional planning is required, a Scoping Assessment is triggered. The IESO leads this phase of the planning process. It works with regional participants, including LDCs and transmitters, to determine the types of solutions that will need to be considered in order to meet electricity needs in the region.

There are two types of regional electricity plans that are used in the planning process:

  • A Regional Infrastructure Plan (RIP) identifies “wires-only” solutions and outlines transmission and distribution infrastructure options to meet electricity needs.
  • An Integrated Regional Resource Plan (IRRP) identifies and assesses “integrated” solutions that consider CDM, generation, or wires options to meet needs in a way that balances local interests with cost effectiveness. A regional plan focuses on near- mid- and long-term needs over the next 20 years

An overview of the regional planning process is illustrated in Figure 1.

Figure 1. Regional Planning Process

Municipal involvement and public participation is a cornerstone of the planning process. Input on integrated solution options, coordinated by the IESO, will be sought from municipalities, First Nations and Métis in the region through meetings and communications.

The IESO will also establish a Local Advisory Committee (LAC) in regions where an IRRP is being developed or where communities have expressed interest in exploring greater self-sufficiency in meeting their electricity needs. The primary role of a LAC is to provide advice on the IRRP and siting of large infrastructure. LACs are also a forum for members to be informed of and provide input on regional planning and siting activities within the community; this includes municipal, business and other community members.

The electricity needs of the regions will be revisited at least once every 5 years. Plans can be revisited sooner if unforeseen events warrant an earlier update.

Regional electricity plans may identify new or existing land use requirements. It is important for all parties to look for opportunities to coordinate with other infrastructure, as appropriate.

Regional electricity plans promote the principle of Conservation First, and consider local plans – including municipal or community energy plans, that identify both conservation opportunities and infrastructure priorities – while also considering other cost-effective solutions such as new supply, transmission and distribution investments.

See the PPS Infosheet on Energy Conservation, Efficiency and Supply for further information on managing energy needs.

Figure 1. Regional Planning Process

Linking Electricity Planning and Land Use Planning

Municipalities play a key role in linking the regional electricity planning and land use planning processes.

Municipalities will be engaged early in the regional electricity planning process and have several opportunities to provide input, including:

  • Providing approved growth forecasts to their local distribution company.
  • Providing information on municipal or community energy plans.
  • As a nominated member of a Local Advisory Committee.

In addition to proactively planning for electricity needs, municipalities should refer to regional electricity plans when developing or updating Official Plans, municipal or community energy plans.

The Ministry of Energy recognizes the value of community/municipal energy planning in reducing energy use and provides support to municipalities in developing community energy plans through the Municipal Energy Plan (MEP) program. A MEP is a comprehensive long-term plan to improve energy efficiency, reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions developed within the context of the built environment, land use planning, growth planning, and generation and transmission infrastructure. The program supports municipalities’ efforts to better understand community energy needs, identify opportunities for energy efficiency and clean energy, and develop plans to meet community goals. MEPs also support regional planning processes.

Planning Across: Coordinating Infrastructure, Protecting Corridors

Greater coordination of infrastructure planning between the province, municipalities and the electricity sector also helps to ensure that land is available for electricity infrastructure that will help meet local and regional needs.

Long-term electricity planning may also involve collaboration with other planning agencies that provide for other types of infrastructure, like roads, water and sewage.

The PPS 2014 provides direction to ensure that electricity generation facilities and transmission systems are planned in a way that mitigates adverse effects, and ensures their long-term viability.

It also directs planning authorities to plan for and protect corridors and rights-of-way for infrastructure, including electricity generation and transmission systems. This includes direction against permitting development in planned corridors that could preclude or negatively affect the intended use of the corridor.

Taking Action

  • Be aware that changes in the municipality may impact electricity needs (new subdivisions, industry needs, or upcoming approved energy projects, for example).
  • Find out what your community needs or wants – is there an interest in developing a plan to reduce energy use? Are any community energy plans completed or underway?
  • Apply to the Municipal Energy Plan Program.
  • Find out if the IESO, transmitters and LDCs have a regional plan established or in development in your community.
  • Contact your LDC to find out where electricity infrastructure may need to go; consider how this can be reflected in your municipality’s Official Plan.

PPS 2014 Definitions

Infrastructure: means physical structures (facilities and corridors) that form the foundation for development. It includes electricity generation facilities, electricity transmission and distribution systems, and oil and gas pipelines and associated facilities.

Major facilities: mean facilities that may require separation from sensitive land uses, including oil and gas pipelines, energy generation facilities and transmission systems.

Planned corridors: mean corridors or future corridors which are required to meet projected needs and are identified through provincial plans, preferred alignment(s) determined through the Environmental Assessment Act process, or identified through planning studies where the Ontario Ministry of Transportation is actively pursuing the identification of a corridor. Approaches for the protection of planned corridors may be recommended in guidelines developed by the Province.

For more information, visit:

For more information on regional electricity planning see OEB, IESO and Hydro One websites.

For more information on energy policies, the Province’s Long-Term Energy Plan or the Municipal Energy Plan Program, see the ministry’s websites:

For more information, contact:

Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing

Provincial Planning Policy Branch
(416) 585-6014

Municipal Services Offices:

Central (Toronto)
(416) 585-6226 or 1-800-668-0230

West (London)
(519) 873-4020 or 1-800-265-4736

East (Kingston)
(613) 545-2100 or 1-800-267-9438

North (Sudbury)
(705) 564-0120 or 1-800-461-1193

North (Thunder Bay)
(807) 475-1651 or 1-800-465-5027

This Infosheet intends to assist participants in the land use planning process to understand the Provincial Policy Statement, 2014. As this Infosheet deals in summarized fashion with complex matters and reflects legislation, policies and practices that are subject to change, it should not be relied upon as a substitute for specialized legal or professional advice in connection with any particular matter. This Infosheet should not be construed as legal advice and the user is solely responsible for any use or the application of this Infosheet. Although this Infosheet has been carefully prepared, the Ministry does not accept any legal responsibility for the contents of this Infosheet or for any consequences, including direct or indirect liability, arising from its use.

Produced by the Ministry of Energy, Strategic Policy and Analytics Branch

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Queen’s Printer for Ontario, 2014

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