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The Environmental Commissioner of Ontario (ECO), Gord Miller, released his 2014 Annual Energy Conservation Progress Report to the Legislature on January 13, 2015. Conclusion: we’re making progress on energy conservation, but there is so much more that could and should be done. Energy conservation is a critical step towards a less fossil-fuel reliant future, not to mention lower energy bills.

Under section 58 of the Environmental Bill of Rights, 1993, S.O. 1993, c. 28, Ontario’s Environmental Commissioner is to report annually to the Speaker of the Assembly on the progress of Ontario in making more efficient use of electricity, natural gas, propane, oil and transportation fuels. Under the EBR, the report is also to describe the progress of the province in meeting targets, among other things, and to identify any legal or other barriers that prevent the province from moving forward towards more efficient use of electricity. The overall purpose of the report is to provide an independent review of the effectiveness of Ontario’s energy conservation laws and policies. This latest report covers the policy developments of 2013 and 2014.

According to the ECO’s press release issued in connection with the report, Ontario’s conservation programs “need more work”.

Mr. Miller praised the province’s development of a Long-Term Energy Plan (LTEP) that put “Conservation First.” Under Ontario’s LTEP, conservation strategies will be considered before building new generation or transmission facilities. The ECO’s report indicates that the province has selected “conservation targets [that] are aggressive when compared against actual conservation performance from 2005 to 2013.” Ontario’s LTEP expects conservation to offset approximately 70% of demand growth between 2012 and 2032. A good portion of these energy savings are expected to come from new appliance standards and changes to the Ontario Building Code.

In terms of where Ontario needs improvement, the ECO’s press release states the following:

  • The vast majority of local electricity distribution utilities will miss their target for peak reduction. About half are expected to miss their target for reducing overall consumption.
  • The government has eliminated all of the interim electricity conservation targets that were used to measure the progress towards meeting its overall goals.
  • The Conservation First philosophy is not backed up with legal authority, as was done with previous power system plan directives.
  • The government has reduced the involvement of the public in reducing peak electricity demand.

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