Ontario Auditor General audit finds the province falling short on energy efficiency, new provincial scorecard report explains why

Ontario slipped in national rankings, and risks not achieving its 2030 emission-reduction targets

November 18, 2020

News | PR-FedPolicy | Press Releases

OTTAWA, November 18, 2020 – Today, 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, released yesterday, 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 Ontario Energy Board needs an updated framework for natural gas conservation programs. Its current framework expires in 2020. This means conservation efforts are likely to remain at current levels, and opportunities for further emissions reductions may be missed.
  • Neither Ministry assesses or enforces compliance with its building energy efficiency programs, despite risks of non-compliance.

The 2020 Scorecard noted 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.

The Scorecard highlights:

  • Ontario ranks fourth in natural gas and fossil fuel energy savings. In 2018, Ontario saved 0.4% of energy demand. While in 2019 Quebec and PEI saved 0.9% and Nova Scotia saved 0.5%. (table 10, pg. 44)
  • Ontario ranks 5th in natural gas and fossil fuel saving targets (table 29, pg. 75).
  • Ontario 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, energy coaches, etc. 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)
  • Few provinces have moved ahead with the disclosure of home energy use. In Portland, energy labels enable quicker and deeper savings (pg. 156)

Quotes and interview opportunities:

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

On building codes, Kevin Lockhart, Efficient Buildings Lead at Efficiency Canada, said: “To effectively reduce energy waste in buildings and drawdown emissions associated with energy use, we need stringent building codes, and we need to ensure there is actually compliance with these codes. This is a major gap in provincial building policies.”

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.”

Relevant reports

About Efficiency Canada 

Efficiency Canada is the national voice for an energy efficient economy. Our mission is to create a sustainable environment and better life for all Canadians by making our country a global leader in energy efficiency policy, technology, and jobs. We conduct rigorous policy analysis, communicate compelling narratives, and convene and mobilize Canada’s dynamic energy efficiency sector. Efficiency Canada is housed at Carleton University’s Sustainable Energy Research Centre, which is located in turn on the traditional unceded territories of the Algonquin nation. 



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