Red Tape Hinders Ontario's Energy Efficiency

ONTARIO Province, Canada, can lower industrial, commercial and residential energy bills, reduce the provincial deficit and create jobs by increasing its energy efficiency according to a new report.

The report: “An Energy Efficiency Strategy for Ontario’s Homes, Buildings and Industries”, was released by the Ontario Clean Air Alliance (OCAA) yesterday (Wednesday).

According to a companion report prepared by Dr. Ernie Stokes of the Centre for Spatial Economics, energy efficiency investments which reduce the outflow of Ontario dollars to Alberta to purchase natural gas, leading to a net increase of 12,200 to 33,800 jobs per year in Ontario between 2016 and 2021. The energy efficiency investments will also reduce Ontario’s provincial deficits by $159 million to $479 million between 2016 and 2021.

Ontario’s energy consumption per person is amongst the highest in the world. Specifically, it is 50 percent higher than New York State’s and double that of the United Kingdom. Ontario’s Premier Dalton McGuinty can increase the city’s energy productivity and stimulate the economy by:

  • Empowering the electric and gas utilities (e.g., Hydro One, Toronto Hydro, Hydro Ottawa, Enbridge Gas Distribution and Union Gas) to help their customers implement all of their cost-effective energy saving opportunities. Specifically, energy retrofit financial incentives, equipment rental and on-bill financing programmes can reduce consumers’ bills and create jobs at no cost to Ontario’s taxpayers. “At the present, Ontario Energy Board and Ontario Power Authority red tape and perverse financial incentives are limiting the ability – and motivation – for our electric and gas utilities to implement innovative, customer-focused energy efficiency programs that will maximise bill savings for Ontario’s consumers,” said Jack Gibbons, Chair of the OCAA. 
  • Directing the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) to pay industrial companies up to the same price to save energy as they pay electricity generating companies to produce electricity. “At the present, the OPA’s payments for saving electricity are 76 to 94 percent lower than the cost of new nuclear supply. This doesn’t make sense. Buying high-cost electricity pushes up electricity rates and makes Ontario’s industries less competitive; whereas paying our industries to pursue all their cost-effective energy savings opportunities will reduce the need for higher cost new supply, reduce our energy bills and make our industries more productive and competitive,” Gibbons said. 
  • Mandating that all new natural gas-fired electricity supply must be combined heat and power (CHP) to squeeze every drop of energy out of the natural gas we use. CHP uses the same molecules of natural gas to simultaneously produce heat and electricity. “Combined heat and power plants can meet our base-load electricity needs at less than one-third the cost of new nuclear supply,” Mr. Gibbons noted. There are numerous small-scale CHP plants located across Ontario (e.g., University of Toronto, Pearson Airport, Kingston General Hospital, London Health Sciences Centre, Sudbury Regional Hospital, Queensway-Carleton Hospital).

Picture of Sir Adam Beck Generating Complex from Ontario Power Generation reporduced under CCL.

Thursday 13th October 2011

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