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Energy suppliers want quicker environmental assessments

CBC News:February 11, 2008

http://www.cbc.ca/canada/toronto/story/2008/02/11/ont-electricity.html

The Ontario Energy Association says it wants the provincial government to accelerate the environmental assessment process for electricity projects, following the adoption of a fast-track approach for transit proposals.

On Friday, Environment Minister John Gerretson announced he's shortening the environmental assessment process for transit projects to six months.

Experts have been complaining that the assessments can take years _ and with a plan to build 52 different transit projects across Ontario, worth $17.5 billion, that's something the government wants to avoid.

"At times in the past the process has taken over the benefits of the results of those projects," Gerretson said Friday.

When the new regulations are finalized in the summer, the assessments for transit projects will have to be finished within six months, followed by 85 days for public consultation.

Now energy companies say badly needed electricity supplies will be threatened unless they get similar consideration.

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The Ontario government has an ambitious plan to create new electricity generation for the province, including new nuclear plants, wind farms and transmission lines.

But the OEA complains that red tape is getting in the way.

Shane Pospisil, OEA president, said his members are facing unnecessary delays in getting projects approved.

"Whether it's a wind project encountering a lot of delays, whether it's transmission lines where the process hasn't been all that clear," Pospisil said, the assessments are causing expensive delays.

Despite the OEA's appeal for a quicker approval process like that for transit initiatives, Gerretson said that won't be happening any time soon.

"Right now we're focusing on the transit [environmental assessments]. Who knows what we'll be focusing on in the future," he said.

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