Sustainability Reporting Initiative
Planet > Biodiversity
Working in harmony with our host environments
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, 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 three years contributing to the OEMP found mountain goats in similar numbers actively using the migration corridors they used prior to construction of the project. The remaining two years will examine if this trend continues. Additionally, government led monitoring has confirmed that grizzly and black bear populations continue to frequent the project area.
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.
Our commitment to reducing our footprint takes many forms and is a collective project that relies on the participation of all our employees, subcontractors and visitors. At Innergex, we want to implement as many green initiatives as we can, following the think globally, act locally rule. One concrete environmental protection measure that also saves costs is our “no-idling” policy for all vehicles on our construction and operating sites. On top of protecting the environment and being economical, it may improve safety by avoiding risk of idling vehicles accidentally moving if a driver exits the vehicle. By implementing this measure, users are more likely to leave the vehicle in the park position and not running.
Expenditure disclosures 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).
Some years, our expenses are higher or lower than previous ones based on several factors, including whether any long-term monitoring programs have concluded or begun, amount of waste generated and recycled, and the number of projects under construction and development.
Environmental Expenditures of over $1.7 million in 2021
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.
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.
Climate Change Risk Management
Climate change, which increases the likelihood, frequency and severity of adverse weather conditions such as severe storms, droughts and water stress, heat waves, forest fires, rising temperatures and changing precipitation patterns, presents both risks and opportunities to the Corporation. Climate change may affect existing weather patterns in ways that are difficult to anticipate, which could result in more frequent and severe disruptions to the Corporation’s generation facilities and the power markets in which the Corporation operates. In addition, energy demands generally vary with weather conditions.
The Corporation’s facilities and projects are exposed to various hazards that are expected to increase in the future under various climate scenarios. 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 investments or asset acquisitions, 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.
Innergex is currently in the process of furthering its internal analysis and integration of a more detailed and comprehensive assessment of the risks and opportunities of climate change on the Corporation in line with the recommendations laid out in the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures and is excited to release an accompanying report in 2022.
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 depending on their locality. 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.
We are always looking to introduce new methods of reducing our footprint in our operations and will continue to deploy new initiatives to achieve our mission of building a better world.