ECO releases Energy Conservation Report: Where is Ontario’s “Culture of Conservation?”

The Environmental Commissioner of Ontario released Volume 1 of his 2011 Annual Energy Conservation Progress Report to the Legislature today.Watch videos of the Commissioner outlining key points of the report:

Read the Commissioner’s Opening Remarks to the Legislature
Download the report on your computer (.pdf)

Toronto, June 5, 2012 – Gord Miller, Ontario’s Environmental Commissioner, says the Ontario government appears to have forgotten one of the important goals of its own Green Energy Act (GEA).

Mr. Miller made the observation today as he released Volume 1 of his Annual Energy Conservation Progress Report – 2011, ‘Restoring Balance,’ which reviews the government’s progress to date on its energy conservation promises, and makes recommendations on how the government can fulfill its GEA commitments. The Green Energy Act gave the Environmental Commissioner the responsibility for reviewing the progress of energy conservation activities in Ontario.

“When the GEA was introduced, the government said that fostering a ‘culture of conservation’ was just as important as increasing the amount of renewable energy,” notes Mr. Miller. “But three years after its passage, many of the bill’s conservation promises remain unfulfilled, or in the case of mandatory energy audits before the sale of a home, completely abandoned. Instead of fostering ‘a culture of conservation,’ the Ontario government seems intent on making it an orphan.”

The report points to three energy conservation promises that were never acted on by the government:

  • The government has not introduced ENERGY STAR® standards for household appliances such as refrigerators, clothes washers, and dishwashers. This would have stopped the sale of less efficient products that consume 20 to 40 per cent more energy.
  • The government has failed to make energy audits mandatory prior to the sale of homes. Homebuyers currently have limited access to information about a home’s energy use. The residential sector accounts for 21 per cent of all energy use in Ontario.
  • The government has not yet banned the sale of the ‘inefficient’ screw-in incandescent light bulbs, which it promised to do by 2012. The federal and Ontario governments have now delayed the ban for two years.  This delay will cost Canadians as much as $300 million in higher energy costs.

The report says the Ontario government does deserve praise for making the Ontario Building Code more energy efficient and for requiring municipalities, school boards, hospitals and colleges and universities to develop energy conservation plans and to report on their organization’s energy usage. But Mr. Miller notes this is an arm’s-length approach to conservation “that leaves conservation disconnected from people’s day-to-day lives.”

“You cannot foster a ‘culture of conservation’ in Ontario,” states Miller, “unless you take actions that actually engage the individual consumer or homeowner.”