Sustainability Reporting Initiative
Working in collaboration with the environments where we operate.
Innergex has a long track record of integrating our hydro, wind and solar renewable energy facilities into their respective landscapes with as little disruption as possible.
Our hydro facilities occupy a relatively small footprint. Post-construction activities include long-term monitoring programs and land restoration programs that return temporarily disturbed areas back to their original state.
Wind farms can be built on productive or brownfield pieces of land. Though they are typically spread over larger tracts of land, the turbines themselves and the surrounding infrastructure (including roads and transmission lines) occupy a small portion of the total area of a wind farm, which is not fenced. The surrounding area can still be used for a variety of other productive purposes, including for agriculture.
Solar farms are typically sited on low-productive or unused tracts of land and are not commonly shared for other uses. We do however have one facility, Spartan, that has a second purpose as the roof of a sizeable outdoor parking lot, proving that integrating solar into infrastructure is possible.
Construction phases at our facilities, depending on their generation type and size (MW), can be completed in as little as 12 months and up to as long as 36 months.
During construction, our Engineering, Procurement, and Construction contractors are required to provide waste management plans that include proper recycling or disposal of waste that follow local, regional and federal regulations as well as our procedures laid out in our internal waste management guidelines.
Our Spill Management Procedure in British Columbia is designed to improve our response and align with provincial regulations. We are presently formalizing similar procedures in our other areas of operation in line with provincial, state and federal requirements.
In 2019, Innergex had two projects that completed construction activities, both in the United States.
At Innergex, we are keenly aware that developing renewable energy projects has impacts on the landscapes where they are constructed and operated. Our priority is to ensure that our footprint is mitigated or minimized and that we can integrate renewable energy facilities as harmoniously as possible into the environments we work in. During the planning stage of a project, we endeavour to locate facilities as near to existing transportation and transmission lines as possible, which not only allows us to minimize land use impact but is more economically efficient.
Every effort is made to return the temporarily disturbed land to its original state upon project completion and we invest in long-term monitoring programs to evaluate the progress of the restoration programs put in place.
Replanting native vegetation, repairing riparian zones, and earthworks projects are important areas of focus that play a role in returning the temporarily disturbed land back to its original state during the post-construction phase. These activities are commonly monitored and approved by independent third-party professionals.
Fish and Wildlife Monitoring Programs
Innergex takes great care in ensuring our impact on terrestrial and aquatic life is mitigated, minimized or avoided at all times. We invest in considerable short and long-term monitoring programs that run during the early development stage (with pre-project baseline surveys) and continue during the operational phase. Before and after data are compared to confirm predictions made during project permitting.
Much of the monitoring is carried out by independent third-party specialist environmental consultants with involvement by our Indigenous partners. For some projects, we have partnered with NGOs or academia by providing the necessary capital and support to conduct multi-year, academic-level monitoring programs. Monitoring results contribute new data and knowledge and have provided valuable research insight in some instances that has greatly added to the industry’s understanding of environmental issues and renewable energy development.
The type of facility, its geographic location, social acceptance and regional regulatory requirements are all considerations taken into account when designing a monitoring program. For example, at our hydroelectric facilities, the programs typically focus on aquatic and terrestrial life, while at a wind farm the focus is on terrestrial and avian species, including birds and bats. In British Columbia, we recognize that mountain ecosystems differ in biodiversity from the more grassland environment of Texas. We understand that every location is unique and requires its own planning and attention.
Capturing the natural movement of nature’s resources (water, wind, sunlight) to generate energy demands a commitment to ensure that the construction and operation of facilities harnessing those resources is conducted in harmony with the host environments.
Our approach, laid out in our Sustainable Development Policy, describes the strategies to prevent, mitigate or minimize the effect our facilities could have on local biodiversity. 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.
Our pre-construction, construction and operation phase monitoring programs ensure we can reduce the risks of impacts on the environment including, for example, by identifying potential species at risk, invasive species, potentially-affected species or the extent and duration of potential impact, to name just a few.
As 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 conduct solutions to mitigate human-wildlife interaction and disturbance to important wildlife ecosystems.
At our hydroelectric projects, wildlife concerns are mainly focused on the construction phase of the project. Mitigating disturbances to wildlife corridors, protecting species at risk, and ensuring minimal disruption to important habitat is critical in the design phase of our projects. Our environment team has proven adaptable in addressing unforeseen issues and has consistently risen to the occasion to resolve them in a timely manner. Throughout the life of a project, our teams continue to monitor fish populations to ensure that they remain healthy and unaffected by operations.
The same concerns abound and are addressed when developing a wind project, and their potential impact, most notably on birds and bats, has been widely documented and studied. Though it is commonly held that, on a percentage basis, wind turbines account for a relatively low number of avian deaths, we nonetheless remain committed to mitigating issues. For example, our development teams consider advances in wind turbine technologies that minimize the risks to avian populations as an option when deciding upon manufacturers and our environment team considers popular avian migration routes when recommending siting of turbines. Furthermore, wind farms are not fenced, letting wildlife roam throughout.
Much like for hydroelectric development, our primary concerns when developing a solar farm occur during the construction phase. Although solar farms typically take up larger pieces of land that is not usually shared with other users, they are often located in areas with smaller wildlife populations as the land is less productive to support a complex ecosystem.
Innergex’s policies are designed to guide the Corporation and its employees to ensure compliance in all aspects of its business. These policies ensure the sustainable growth of the Corporation through supporting employees with information-sharing and training, providing transparency with shareholders and the public, and clearly laying out the Corporation’s vision for ethical and acceptable behaviour. The policies are reviewed on an annual basis and updated accordingly. Policies related to this section include: