Ontario Auditor General finds the province falling short on energy efficiency

The Ontario Auditor General released a 2020 Value-for-Money-Audit which includes a section on reducing greenhouse gas emissions from energy use in buildings. Efficiency Canada’s 2020 Provincial Energy Efficiency Scorecard provides added insight to the Auditor General’s findings, showing how Ontario compares to other provinces and US states.

The Audit noted that the Energy and Mines Ministry does not have an integrated long-term energy plan that aligns natural gas and electricity use in buildings with Ontario’s 2030 emission-reduction target. The Ministry has also made little to no progress on other Environment Plan initiatives, including expanding renewable natural gas and encouraging the disclosure of home energy use

The Audit also suggests that the Ontario Energy Board needs an updated framework for natural gas conservation programs as its current framework expires in 2020. According to the release, this means conservation efforts are likely to remain at current levels, and opportunities for further emissions reductions may be missed.

The 2020 Scorecard revealed that Ontario is a traditional leader in areas such as energy efficient building codes, appliance and equipment standards, building energy reporting, and conservation programs, however, the 2020 Scorecard registered steep reductions in electricity savings and program spending.

According to the Scorecard, Ontario ranks fourth in natural gas and fossil fuel energy savings. In 2018, Ontario saved 0.4 per cent of energy demand. While in 2019 Quebec and PEI saved 0.9 per cent and Nova Scotia saved 0.5 per cent.

“In 2018 Ontario was responsible for 48 per cent of national electricity savings, 35 per cent of natural gas savings, and 52 per cent of program spending. If Ontario’s energy efficiency efforts dwindle or remain static, national efficiency and emission reduction goals could be out of reach,” said lead author James Gaede.

Ontario ranks 5th in natural gas and fossil fuel saving targets (table 29, pg. 75), and scored low in tracking of building code compliance activities, which considers areas such as regular assessments, dedicated staff resources, training and technical assistance, consistent terminology, and energy coaches British Columbia leads in this area because compliance is integrated into the BC Energy Step Code, which moves the province towards net-zero energy-ready building performance (pg. 152-155)

On possibilities for Ontario in the future, Brendan Haley, Policy Director at Efficiency Canada, said: “The province’s 2018 Environment Plan called for a significant increase in natural gas conservation programs, starting in 2021. The Ontario government can implement its own Environment Plan by directing the OEB to increase natural gas efficiency programs to meet the province’s target as a minimum,” said Brendan Haley, Policy Director at Efficiency Canada.

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