Environmental Commissioner of Ontario
Ontario's New Long-Term Energy Plan Avoids Tough Questions on Integrating Energy and Climate Policy

November 8, 2017

Ontario's new Long-Term Energy Plan, Delivering Fairness and Choice, was released last week, and it was a disappointment. With an overriding focus on near-term electricity rates, the 2017 Long-Term Energy Plan (LTEP) fails to address the most pressing energy question of our time: how will we transform our energy systems (electricity, natural gas, gasoline, diesel, propane and oil) to meet our ambitious future climate targets?

Last year, the ECO made 14 recommendations to the government about what the 2017 LTEP should address. This ECO special report responded to technical documents released by the government that were to guide public consultations for the 2017 LTEP. Below is a summary table showing whether and how the ECO's recommendations were addressed.

The most glaring absence from the LTEP is its failure to plan for fuel use (and resulting emissions) other than electricity. Instead the LTEP gives that important topic a shoulder shrug by saying that "the outlook for the supply and demand of [other] fuels will depend on policy and program decisions over the next 20 years, as well as on technological innovation and adoption" (p. 40).

The primary focus of previous LTEPs - identifying the supply and conservation resources needed to meet future electricity demand - is largely absent from this year's version. In part, this is because Ontario will not need new electricity supply for several years. For electricity supply gaps beyond that time frame, the 2017 LTEP states vaguely that electricity needs will be met through a market auction (a.k.a., the "Market Renewal" initiative), as opposed to the province's previous approach of long-term fixed-price contracts. The government is hopeful that this auction will deliver significant cost savings and enable system flexibility. How the Market Renewal model can accomplish all that will be asked of it - including system flexibility to respond to various electrification scenarios and ensuring low emissions - remains to be seen.

Nonetheless, the 2017 LTEP does explore some opportunities to make Ontario's energy systems cleaner and more efficient. The following activities will be encouraged to modernize the electricity grid and use technology to balance electricity supply and demand in real time, including:

  • using surplus electricity to produce clean natural gas ("power-to gas"),
  • energy storage,
  • innovative pricing plans, and
  • smart electric vehicle charging.

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For more information:

Environmental Commissioner of Ontario

1075 Bay Street, Suite 605
Toronto, Ontario
Canada, M5S 2B1

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