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Expand Natural Gas Energy Efficiency to Boost Economy, Create Jobs, Groups Urge Ontario

U.S. EPA/Wikipedia

The Ontario Energy Board must expand the province’s natural gas energy efficiency programs as a way to meet provincial carbon targets, create jobs, and drive the COVID-19 economic recovery, Efficiency Canada argues in a letter it submitted yesterday to three senior provincial cabinet ministers.

“These programs are a rare opportunity to lower energy bills, create jobs, cut carbon emissions, and stimulate our economy,” states the letter, which Efficiency Canada sent on behalf of 75 signatories. “This is the best kind of economic stimulus because it would pay for itself over time, improve efficiency, and lower bills.”

[Energy Mix Productions was one of the 75 signatories.]

Addressing itself to a government that made lower electricity bills a central promise in the most recent provincial election, the letter notes that every dollar invested in efficiency “creates more than one dollar in savings through reduced energy use”—in fact, the mix of programs offered by gas utility Enbridge saves C$4.71 per dollar invested, and its commercial sector programs save more than $16. “These programs pay for themselves many times over and have already lowered energy bills by a staggering $6.3 billion in Ontario.”

Efficiency creates “good, made-in-Ontario jobs” for insultation installers, equipment retailers, retrofit experts, and more, while producing spin-off employment by injecting dollars into local economies, the letter continues. And it “replaces out-of-province gas purchases with made-in-Ontario gas savings and jobs. Increasing these programs to the levels found in leading jurisdictions would create more than 18,500 good jobs in Ontario.”

That work would in turn deliver economic stimulus, make Ontario businesses more competitive, and create economic growth, while the efficiency gains it produced would be “by far the cheapest way to reduce Ontario’s carbon costs,” the Ottawa-based organization adds. “The programs pay for themselves with reduced energy use and costs, and therefore the emissions reductions are free.” 

With gas accounting for 29% of the province’s emissions, “there is huge untapped potential for cost-effective natural gas energy efficiency in Ontario.”

The letter urges Energy Minister Greg Rickford, Environment Minister Jeff Yurek, and Finance Minister Rod Phillips to act quickly and make natural gas efficiency “a big part of Ontario’s plan to stimulate the economy, get out of the pandemic recession, and create jobs,” using “rock-bottom interest rates” now available to stimulate the economy while amortizing the costs to ensure affordability.

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