Ontario’s New Energy Vision Puts Conservation First

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GLOBE-Net, July 16, 2013 – Ontario has announced plans for a new approach for energy planning that will focus on conservation measures before building new generation facilities, whenever it is cost-effective to do so.

The Ontario government has released Conservation First: A Renewed Vision for Energy Conservation in Ontario, which it hopes will guide discussion and garner input from Aboriginal partners, members of the public, local utilities, municipalities, environmental groups, business associations, and other stakeholders for a new Conservation and Demand Management framework. 

Feedback from these discussions will also serve a review of the province’s Long Term Energy Plan, which is already underway.

  [stextbox id=”custom” float=”true” width=”300″ bcolor=”ADD3D5″ bgcolor=”ADD3D5″ image=”null”]Ontario has saved billions of dollars through conservation, and we have a clear opportunity to do more. By investing in conservation before new generation, where cost-effective, we can save ratepayers money and give consumers new technology to track and control energy use.Bob Chiarelli, Minister of Energy[/stextbox]

Significant gains have already been achieved in the province’s conservation program which has helped to reduce electricity demand and increase efficiency. Investments in conservation programs over the last eight years have allowed Ontario to avoid building new generation that would have cost more than $4 billion.

Conservation programs have contributed to home energy reductions. For example, the saveONenergy programs encourage families and businesses to maximize savings by investing in energy efficient products and upgrades, and the Peaksaver PLUSprogram offers in-home displays that allow families to monitor their electricity use at home.

Encouraging a culture of conservation is part of the government’s plan to maintain a clean, modern and reliable electricity grid.

Quick Facts 

  • The Conservation and Demand Management framework sets out policy priorities for conservation, prescribes targets for local utilities and establishes funding for conservation programs. It began in 2011 and applies until the end of 2014.
  • The Long-Term Energy Plan review currently underway provides the opportunity to build the conservation first principle into Ontario’s energy planning.
  • From 2005 to 2011, families and businesses across the province conserved enough to reduce demand by more than 1,900 megawatts, the equivalent of powering more than 600,000 homes.
  • For every $1 invested in energy efficiency, Ontario has avoided about $2 in costs to the electricity system.
  • Between 1990 and 2013, average household electricity consumption has declined by almost 25 per cent, resulting in the average household saving up to $350 based on current electricity costs. 

Reactions to the government’s announcements have been generally positive. Elizabeth A. McDonald, President and CEO, Canadian Energy Efficiency Alliance, said “Conservation should always be the first step in any energy planning. Ontarians are looking for two things: to save money and to do the right thing for the environment. This announcement does that and more. We look forward to these discussions that will take place over the summer.”

“Ontario has distinguished itself as a national leader in reducing pollution from its electricity system” said Tim Weis, Director of Renewable Energy and Efficiency Policy, Pembina Institute. “Energy conservation is the most cost-effective way for the province to further reduce its dependence on non-renewable resources. We’re happy to see Ontario put conservation first.”

Long-Term Energy Plan Review

The three-year review of the province’s Long-Term Energy Plan was contemplated when it was announced in 2010. Given that the energy sector is constantly shifting and evolving, especially as energy consumption habits and economic conditions fluctuate, the review is both timely and necessary.

A companion discussion paper Making Choices: Reviewing Ontario’s Long-Term Energy Plan, provides some information on the current status of the electricity system.

It identifies commitments made that are still shaping the sector, and characteristics of the different energy sources.

It is anticipated that the updated Long-Term Energy Plan will be released this fall.

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