Ontario prioritizes conservation and consumer awareness in energy planning


Toronto, ON, Canada — (METERING.COM) — July 18, 2013 – Ontario intends to make conservation the first resource to be considered in meeting the province’s energy needs where it is cost effective, and ahead of new generation capacity.

This new framework, which will be subject to consultation, will replace the current conservation and demand management framework, which is due to wind down at the end of 2014.

In a discussion document Conservation First: A Renewed Vision for Energy Conservation in Ontario released by the energy ministry, it is noted that Ontario has been working for several years to create a culture of conservation in the province. Among the outcomes are that between 2006 and 2011, $2 billion investment in conservation led to Ontario avoiding more than $4 billion in new supply costs. In 2011, the most cost effective year to date, conservation programs influenced annual energy savings of 717 GWh at a program cost to consumers of just over 3 c/kWh.

These savings are the result of a wide range of initiatives, including improvements to building codes and product efficiency standards, programs delivered by the distribution companies and provincial agencies, and time-of-use rates among others.

The document says that to inspire further action and behavioral changes, Ontario should build consumer awareness of the benefits of conservation and understanding of the electricity system as a whole. The electricity sector must also better align incentives and tools with consumer needs, including providing access to energy consumption information. Closely related to that is the need to tailor tools to the needs of different customers. Also greater innovation should be encouraged.

Some proposed tools to advance conservation include:

  • Voluntary dynamic pricing programs
  • Green Button initiative
  • Social benchmarking of energy usage
  • Home energy management systems
  • Rating systems for buildings and benchmarking
  • Net metering programs
  • Financing plans for conservation initiatives, e.g. home energy retrofits
  • Electricity storage
  • Reducing distribution line losses (currently around 4.4%).

Proposed objectives of the new framework include giving the electricity distributors more autonomy and programming choice for their customers, and establishing clear accountability and mechanisms for meeting conservation goals. It is also proposed to leverage programs and provincial investments to encourage innovation such as electricity storage and smart grid technologies.