Toronto, December 7, 2011 - The Environmental
Commissioner of Ontario says the government's energy conservation
achievements are substantial, but incomplete.
In releasing volume two of his 2010 Energy Conservation Progress
Report, Managing a Complex Energy System -
Results, Gord Miller says "the government achieved two-thirds
of an electricity conservation target that it had set. It's a
respectable showing given that Ontario's targets are among the most
ambitious in North America".
What concerns Miller more is that the value of conservation
seems to have been lost in the public debates over energy,
especially when debating electricity prices or building new
"The government should step up
conservation efforts because it saves customers money, reduces
environmental damage, and helps avoid new and often unpopular power
plants." Gord Miller, Environmental Commissioner of
As the past two years have shown, willing host communities of
any type of power plant are hard to find.
The Environmental Commissioner says the Annual Energy
Conservation Progress Report shows mixed results in the
government's conservation efforts.
- Ontario's electricity conservation efforts reduced peak demand
by 1,750 megawatts (MW) in 2010 due to new programs and initiatives
that began in 2005. This is the equivalent to not having to build
three new natural gas-fired peaker plants. By investing about $1.7
billion in conservation programs, Ontario saved electricity
ratepayers $3.8 billion in avoided electricity supply costs.
However, this achievement was only 65% of the 2,700 MW peak demand
reduction target that the government had set itself.
- Energy savings from the conservation programs operated by the
province's natural gas utilities performed well against the targets
approved by the Ontario Energy Board. These programs were very
cost-effective, providing more than $400 million in net benefits
and a reduction of 185 million cubic metres in the amount of
natural gas used in 2010.
- There are no results available on the conservation impact of
time-of use (TOU) pricing. The government is only now
beginning to measure how people have changed their consumption with
the introduction of TOU. The prices, set semi-annually by the
Ontario Energy Board, are not based on actual data of how price
levels affect customers' consumption. TOU prices should incorporate
this real-world information in order to maximize the amount of
- There is a risk that electric utilities will not meet their
2014 electricity conservation targets. Not only was there a delay
in the province-wide programs delivered by the Ontario Power
Authority, but the Ontario Energy Board has been unsupportive of
customized programs that were supposed to be offered by
The Commissioner was particularly
pointed in his critique of the Smart meter program, the benefits of
which appear to be slow in arriving. "Given that reducing peak
demand was the prime driver for introducing smart meters and TOU
pricing … the ECO would have expected that a method of tracking the
impact of TOU pricing on consumers' electricity consumption
patterns would have been in place sooner," he said.
The Environmental Commissioner says "I want to impress upon the
new Energy Minister, in light of the actions of the Ontario Energy
Board and program delays, that immediate action is required if the
electric utilities are to meet the 2014 targets that are a
condition of their licence. The alternative," says Miller, "is to
give them more time."
For the full report, visit www.eco.on.ca