Energy is critical to keeping Ontario running – energy heats and powers our homes, businesses, institutions and farms while also fueling our transportation systems and industrial processes. But producing and consuming energy has many impacts on Ontario’s environment.
Energy conservation means both using less energy (e.g., behavioural change) and improving the efficiency of energy use (e.g., via more efficient technology). It can also include shifting the timing of energy use away from times of high demand, to reduce stress on energy production and delivery systems. Energy conservation can mean less need for new energy production and delivery infrastructure. It can displace energy (and related environmental impacts) from sources such as hydro, natural gas, nuclear, and oil. Conservation is an energy resource just like these other fuels. For example, Ontario’s 2032 electricity conservation target of 30 terawatt hours will account for 16% of production and is more than all the power currently used by the City of Toronto.
Energy planning, supply and conservation in Ontario are primarily the responsibility of the Ministry of Energy (ENG) with support from the Ontario Energy Board, the Independent Electricity System Operator and Ontario’s electric and natural gas utilities. However, other provincial ministries have roles to play in energy-related issues, for example:
- The Ministry of Municipal Affairs (MMA) administers the Ontario Building Code, which specifies energy efficiency requirements and greenhouse gas objectives for new buildings.
- The Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) is responsible for addressing the environmental impacts of energy projects.
- The Ministry of Infrastructure and Infrastructure Ontario (the operator of the province’s real estate portfolio) are responsible for reporting on government building energy use and conservation.
- The 5 custodial ministries (Ministry of Transportation, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Child and Youth Services, Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services, and Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry) also report on their building energy use and related energy conservation strategies.
- Treasury Board Secretariat is responsible for the government’s commitment to reducing energy use and greenhouse gas emissions in the Ontario Public Service.
Since 2009, the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario (ECO) has been tasked with reporting on progress of activities in Ontario to reduce energy use or improve energy efficiency.
The ECO is responsible for producing an annual report (the “Energy Conservation Report”) that:
- Documents the results of conservation initiatives related to electricity, natural gas, propane, oil and transportation fuels;
- Reviews progress towards meeting government-established targets for these fuels;
- Identifies any Acts, regulations, by-laws or policies that result in barriers to energy conservation initiatives related to these fuels; and
- Makes recommendations to enable the province to achieve further energy conservation.
In addition to the ECO’s annual reporting on Ontario’s progress towards meeting its energy conservation goals, the ECO has discussed many energy-related issues in our Energy Reports and Environmental Protection Reports, including: electricity and energy sector regulation; conservation programs; conservation planning policy; conservation opportunities and barriers; energy pricing and customer engagement; Building Code and product standards; and renewable and alternative energy. Below is a selection of articles related to energy conservation, use and issues from the ECO’s reports. You can also use the search bar at the top of this page to search our website and reports for a particular word or phrase.
• MicroFIT (2009 Energy Report, Vol. 2)