Province’s energy conservation commitment falls short, says York report

Ontario has failed to prioritize and make a long-term commitment to energy conservation, according to a York University report released Monday.

The report, Electricity Conservation Policy in Ontario: Assessing a System in Progress, part of the Sustainable Energy Initiative Studies in Ontario Electricity Policy Paper Series, is published in the context of the February speech from the throne’s MarkWinfieldacknowledgement that “conservation is the cheapest source of energy”.

Mark Winfield

“The paper provides a detailed road map for turning the province’s renewed focus on energy conservation into reality,” says Professor Mark Winfield of the Faculty of Environmental Studies and co-chair of the Sustainable Energy Initiative (SEI). “By acting on its new commitment, Ontario has the potential to strengthen the sustainability of Ontario’s electricity system and to enhance the energy productivity of Ontario’s economy.”

Other major barriers to a successful energy conservation strategy highlighted in the report include overly rigid roles for electricity RebeccaMallindistribution companies in offering conservation programs and legislation that grants authority, but do not mandate conservation. In addition, the report states there is a lack of attention and support to build a culture of conservation.

Rebecca Mallinson

Rebecca Mallinson, author of the paper and a FES graduate student, outlines 20 recommendations. One of them is that the province’s long-term energy policy objectives, the pursuit of all cost-effective opportunities for conservation, be set through legislation rather than ministerial directives.

“I hope my recommendations will help policymakers to renew Ontario’s commitment to electricity conservation. It only makes sense that our energy policies make conservation a priority because conservation is the best-choice electricity option,” says Mallinson.