On December 22, 2014, the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) quietly issued a new regulatory framework to govern natural gas conservation programs for the next six years.
While the release of Ontario’s new Demand Side Management (DSM) Framework for Natural Gas didn’t make any headlines, it will have a major impact on Ontario’s ability to meet its 2020 greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction commitment — and on Toronto’s ability to meet its own more ambitious 2020 target.
That’s because natural gas used for heating (i.e. excluding gas used for electricity generation) accounts for 30% of province-wide GHG emissions and 35% of Toronto’s emissions. While province-wide GHG emissions from electricity have already fallen significantly (by 43% compared to 1990 levels), due to the phase out of coal-fired power plants combined with conservation, natural gas emissions have actually increased.
A new gas conservation framework was required both because the old framework expired on December 31st, but also because the Ontario Minister of Energy had directed the OEB to develop a new framework consistent with the Province’s Conservation First energy policy.
TAF’s research papers
Recognizing the importance of natural gas conservation, TAF commissioned a series of research papers last year summarizing best practices in natural gas conservation from jurisdictions across North America and outlining some recommendations for Ontario.
We provided our research directly to the OEB as well as to a variety of stakeholders, and it was cited prominently by several organizations in their formal responses to the draft framework floated by the OEB last fall, as well as forming the basis of TAF’s own response to the draft.
So, how did we do?
The new gas conservation framework is a significant step forward both compared to the last framework as well as the draft version floated in the September. However, it still falls well short of the Minister’s directive to enable achievement of all cost effective conservation.
Here are the key points: Continue reading