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Sustainability Reporting Initiative

Planet > Biodiversity

Working in harmony with our host environments

Protecting Biodiversity

By harnessing the power of the sun’s rays, the natural flow of water, and the motion of the air, we work with nature to generate clean energy for a brighter future. Innergex is committed to ensuring that the construction and operation of facilities to harness these resources is conducted in harmony with their host environments.

Our approach, laid out in our Sustainable Development Policy, describes the strategies to avoid, minimize and/or mitigate the effect our facilities could have on local ecosystems. We also consider remediation and restoration as a part of this strategy for not only the land we build on, but adjacent and protected areas.

As many of our projects are located in remote areas, consideration of wildlife plays an important role in the planning, construction and operation phases of our projects. We have a successful record of partnering with government, Non-Governmental Organizations (“NGOs”), conservation groups, academia and local organizations to design and implement solutions to mitigate human-wildlife interaction and disturbance of important species.

For example, concern about construction-related displacement of mountain goats at Innergex’s Upper Lillooet and Boulder Creek hydro facilities in British Columbia is being monitored under a 5-year Operational Environmental Monitoring Plan (OEMP). Results from the first two years of the OEMP found mountain goats in similar numbers actively using migration corridors used prior to the project. The remaining three years will examine if this early trend continues.

In another example the daily water monitoring of the Inukjuak River during the construction of the Innavik Hydro Project on the eastern shores of Hudson Bay (Quebec) ensures the water is not negatively impacted by the construction work. The water monitoring program consists of two daily samplings, one upstream and one downstream from the worksite. Currently monitored parameters include temperature, pH and turbidity, allowing us to immediately identify a significant change / issue that could affect drinking water supplies in the downstream community of Inukjuak. To date results have shown that water parameters are identical at the upstream and downstream monitoring points indicating that the project has no effect on water quality.

Our Sustainable Development Policy lays out our commitment to developing strategies that recognize the importance of the ecosystems within which we work and identify the risks and the potential impacts that our facilities could have on biodiversity, endangered species, waterbodies and other habitats. We work with NGOs and both public and private stakeholders to ensure the restoration of temporarily disturbed areas and the protection of habitat and species at our operational sites.

Environmental Expenditures

Innergex is advancing an internal mechanism to track annual environmental expenditures from its operations (electricity generation sites and offices). Expenditures disclosed for 2020 consist of all costs at our operating facilities associated with the following categories: operational environmental monitoring programs, waste management costs and spill supplies (including oil recycling, hazardous waste disposal/treatment), environmental compliance costs (permitting, incident response, instream works monitoring), environmental restoration occurring during operations (maintenance of fish habitat compensation sites, additional tree planting and restoration costs). Innergex is also working towards tracking time and costs spent on environmental training of personnel for future years’ disclosures.

In 2020, Environmental Expenditures of over
$1.2 M

Environmental Management

Innergex maintains an environmental management system that applies to each of its operating renewable energy facilities. This system consists of a combination of standard procedures (management and prevention of environmental spills, waste management, etc.) as well as procedures that are unique to each facility and jurisdiction in which we operate. Innergex’s approach is to view each facility as a stand-alone with specific environmental requirements that derive from permits and approvals pertinent to each facility. This may include, for example, procedures for water use and compliance, fish protection, or road usage at each hydro facility, and procedures for protection of birds, bats and other wildlife, as well as vegetation at our wind facilities. These procedures are overseen by an in-house environmental team, supported by independent specialist contractors and site operations staff that are trained to adhere and perform their tasks within these site-specific requirements.

Our Corporate Emergency Response Plan identifies potential environmental, health and safety emergencies and includes appropriate actions to respond to such situations. This plan, as well as the Site-Specific Safety Plan, are available at each facility and in each Innergex office as well as on the Corporation’s intranet network. Our Health and Safety team works diligently to ensure the health and safety of all our employees through education, training, monitoring and on-site visits.

We are proud of the project successes we have achieved while upholding strict environmental standards through rigorous assessment, monitoring, commitment-tracking, and compliance practices. In addition, we strive to continually improve the performance and monitoring of our activities. For more information about our environmental expenditures, see the Financial and Operational Effects of Environmental Protection Requirements section of the Annual Information Form.

Find out more about how we manage risks in our Annual Report, Environment, Health & Safety Policy, and Sustainable Development Policy.

Innergex complies with national, provincial and local environmental regulations for each of its renewable energy facilities and continuously analyzes and evaluates the impacts of its activities on the environment in order to, where possible, improve its procedures and the outcomes.

Vegetation Management

Natural growth of vegetation varies greatly between Innergex operating facilities – some facilities are located in coastal rainforest areas where vegetation growth is rapid, others are located in sparsely-vegetated desert areas.  After vegetation is initially cleared for project construction, varying degrees of vegetation management are required during operations. Some areas require active vegetation control (such as weeds inside a fenced electrical sub-station for fire risk), other sites such as powerline rights-of-way are brushed every few years. Risk of falling trees (windfall) is managed along rights-of-way to reduce the risk of powerline contact, associated outage, and forest fire hazard. A customized, regionally-appropriate vegetation management method is employed at each site.

Global Climate Change Risk Management

The Corporation carefully manages physical risks, including preparing for, and responding to, extreme weather events through activities such as proactive route selection, asset hardening, regular maintenance, and insurance. The Corporation follows regulated engineering codes, evaluates ways to create greater system reliability and resiliency and, where appropriate, submits regulatory applications for capital expenditures aimed at creating greater system reliability and resiliency. When planning for capital investment or acquiring assets, we consider site-specific climate and weather factors, such as flood plain mapping and extreme weather history. Prevention activities include wildfire management plans and vegetation management at electricity transmission and distribution sites. The Corporation maintains in-depth emergency response measures for extreme weather events. Despite all the measures in place to prepare for and respond to extreme weather events, there is no assurance that there would be no consequences on the Corporation’s revenues and profitability.

Global climate change, including the impacts of global warming, represents a risk that could adversely affect the Corporation’s business, results of operations and cash flows. Variability in hydrology, wind regimes and solar irradiation and their predictability may be affected by unforeseen climate changes such as hurricanes, wind storms, hailstorms, rainstorms, ice storms, floods, severe winter weather and forest fires. To the extent that weather conditions are affected by climate change, customers’ energy use and the Corporation’s power generation could increase or decrease depending on the duration and magnitude of the changes.

Managing Waste

Innergex promotes recycling and reuse throughout the organization. We have different systems in place to address the specifics at each of our operating sites as they vary from urban office environments to electricity generating facilities in the remote backcountry.

During construction, our Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) contractors are required to provide waste management plans for recycling or disposal of waste in compliance with local, regional and federal regulations as well Innergex procedures.

Although our facilities do not generate waste directly from their operation, we nonetheless have protocols in place to deal with typical waste generation (i.e. domestic garbage, recycling, metal scraps, used oil recycling). Operators at our facilities sort waste to be sent to recycling facilities or disposal depending on the geographic location and availability of services in that jurisdiction.

Our office staff also plays a role in reducing our environmental footprint. Each of our offices have recycling available and some have more comprehensive programs. Internal initiatives help communicate the importance of recycling and waste reduction initiatives such as a central recycling station that was implemented in 2019 in our Vancouver office. In an effort to reduce disposables, Innergex provided every office employee with a reusable glass lunch container in 2019 to transport food items thus cutting down on packaging waste. We are currently developing a waste reduction strategy for all our generating facilities and office locations.