Province increases funding for energy efficiency

Provincial Minister of Energy, Todd Smith, delivers remarks at Country Cousins in Brunner regarding the natural gas expansion that has come to that community in Perth East. October 3, 2022 (Photo by Ryan Drury)

The Ontario government is increasing funding for the province’s energy-efficiency programs by $342 million.

Minister of Energy Todd Smith said the total investment is now more than $1 billion over the current four-year electricity conservation framework.

He added the funding will support new and expanded programs that will help families and businesses reduce their electricity use so they can save money on their energy bills. He said it will also help meet the province’s emerging electricity system needs.

“Our government’s success in driving electrification of industry and transportation and strong economic growth is increasing electricity demand, and our government is looking at every option to meet these upcoming needs,” said Smith. “By 2025, this expansion of energy-efficiency programs will help deliver enough annual electricity savings to power approximately 130,000 homes every year and reduce costs for consumers by over $650 million.”

This funding will support a new voluntary Residential Demand Response Program with an incentive for homes with an existing central air conditioning or heat pump unit and smart thermostat to help lower energy use at peak times and lower bills

“Through this program, families can voluntarily enroll to receive a financial incentive in return for the electricity system operator being able to reduce their cooling load on a select number of summer afternoons helping to drive down peak demand,” he said.

Smith added the funding includes enhancements to the Save On Energy Retrofit Program for businesses, institutions and municipalities for custom energy efficiency upgrades.

“What they will do will mean huge benefits. Whether its funding for municipalities to upgrade the chillers at their local rinks or arenas, funding for a hospital to make HVAC or air handling system upgrades, or funding for a local business for building upgrades like new insulation or better windows and doors,” he explained.

It will also provide targeted support for greenhouse growers in Southwest Ontario, in addition to enhancements to existing programs that provide support for businesses, municipalities, hospitals and other institutions to reduce their energy use and their energy bill.

The government accepted the Independent Electricity System Operator’s (IESO) recommendation to roll out these new and expanded energy-efficiency programs, which are among the fastest and most cost-effective ways of meeting system needs, with the intention that they will be available to eligible electricity customers beginning in Spring 2023. These enhancements are expected to have a particular impact in Southwest Ontario, with regional peak demand savings of 225 megawatts (MW). This will help to alleviate electricity system constraints in the region and foster economic development.

The overall savings from this energy efficiency programming will result in an estimated three million tonnes of greenhouse gas emission reductions over its lifetime – the equivalent to taking approximately 600,000 vehicles off the road for one year.