Ontario’s Environmental Commissioner urges improvements to ensure energy savings

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Toronto – Ontario’s Environmental Commissioner says the government needs to make improvements to its energy conservation programs if it hopes to meet its tough new electricity reduction targets.

With the release of Rethinking Energy Conservation in Ontario – Results, Environmental Commissioner Gord Miller warns that “strong action will be needed” to meet targets outlined in the government’s Long-Term Energy Plan. He adds that  “conservation is the most cost-effective way to avoid the need for expensive new generation and transmission facilities, including new natural gas peaking plants.”

The Long-Term Energy Plan, released last week, proposes to reduce demand by 7100 megawatts and 28 terawatt-hours by 2030, which the government believes to be one of the most aggressive targets in North America.

Miller’s report reviews progress on several energy conservation programs, including the Ontario Power Authority’s demand-response programs, which pay large industrial electricity consumers to reduce their consumption when electricity demand is high. They account for most of the progress to meet Ontario’s electricity conservation target.

But the Environmental Commissioner says the province’s current energy conservation programs could be improved, and pointed out gaps in Ontario’s conservation programs that need to be fixed.

  • The popular and effective Home Energy Savings Program is ending, with no replacement program in sight. Also, there has been no action, as promised in legislation, to assist home purchasers to rate a home’s energy efficiency by requiring energy audits when a home is sold.
  • Union Gas and Enbridge have allowed their residential conservation programs to stagnate. Regulatory improvements and co-ordination between government, gas and electricity distributors could address this.
  • There has been little progress in the provincial goal of establishing a low carbon fuel standard, which would see a 10% reduction in carbon emissions from transportation fuels by 2020.
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