TORONTO — The Ontario government recently announced that it is strengthening the regulation of vertical closed loop drilling for geothermal energy systems with new rules that take effect immediately under Ontario Regulation 98/12. This announcement came in response to an incident where a contractor in Oakville, Ontario, drilled a borehole for a geothermal system that struck natural gas deposits hundreds of feet deep.

The province intends to improve public health and safety by requiring geothermal installers to obtain an Environmental Compliance Approval (ECA) for vertical closed loop geothermal systems; consult with a certified geoscientist or engineer before drilling; and develop an emergency plan before drilling.

The Ministry intends to consult with industry stakeholders in the coming months on the new regulations. The Ministry said it will also be conducting inspections to ensure installers are meeting safety standards. On June 14, HRAI, along with other stakeholders, met with Ministry staff to clarify expectations going forward. Some guidelines have been developed and a set of instructions for completing an ECA have been drafted. These are available on request.

Along with other parties, HRAI has expressed some concern that the new procedures should not create too much of an additional burden in terms of the cost and time required to complete projects.

Publication date: 7/30/2012