New Tool for Fire Service Regarding Renewable Energy Installations in Ontario

Communiqué du commissaire des incendies

New Tool for Fire Service Regarding Renewable Energy Installations in Ontario

Communiqué 2016-09

February 29, 2016

Not knowing the location of existing renewable energy installations in Ontario can pose challenges for firefighters responding to emergency situations. As a new and emerging technology, renewable energy installations, such as photovoltaic (solar) installations, present unique risks for firefighters. These potential risks include being exposed to electrically energized ‘live’ components for solar installations, and not being aware of the presence of solar systems on the roofs of houses or commercial/industrial buildings, which may be difficult to see from the street or at night.

At the request of the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs, the Renewables and Energy Facilitation Branch of the Ministry of Energy, and other stakeholders, the Electrical Safety Authority (ESA) discussed with these safety partners public safety, firefighter safety and fire safety in relation to renewable energy systems in Ontario.

As a result of these discussions, the ESA launched on February 23, 2016, a new Web portal intended for fire departments and dedicated to providing a list of existing renewable energy installations (solar installations) in Ontario. Currently, the list provides the address and the size of the system (FIT1 and MicroFIT2) for approximately 18,000 renewable energy installations installed in the province between 2010 and 2015 inclusively. The list will be updated twice a year.

The list does not provide personal information or information in French. It does not cover renewable energy installations installed prior to 2010. The portal is accessible to Ontario fire departments only.

The portal will increase the level of awareness of where existing renewable energy installations are located, thus enabling fire departments to be better prepared and to implement appropriate safety procedures. The ESA has sent an e-mail to all fire chiefs outlining how to access the portal. Any fire chief who has not received this e-mail yet and who wishes to access the portal should send an e-mail to esa.onlinesupport@electricalsafety.on.ca.

As this tool is new, improvements are ongoing. The ESA plans to increase functionality over time (e.g., adding GIS location capabilities).

Enquiries regarding the portal and the information it contains should be directed to Carita Edwards, Policy Advisor, ESA, who can be reached by e-mail at Carita.Edwards@electricalsafety.on.ca.


1 FIT Program = Feed-in Tariff Program: for renewable energy projects greater than 10 kilowatts and generally up to 500 kilowatts
2 MicroFIT Program: for renewable energy projects of 10 kilowatts or less