This discussion guide is intended to help Ontarians participate in the development of the province’s Long-Term Energy Plan (LTEP). The LTEP is a road map setting out the direction for Ontario’s energy future for the next 20 years. Your involvement is important, as it will help maintain the principles that residents and businesses say are important to them: cost-effectiveness, reliability, clean energy, community and Indigenous engagement, and putting conservation and energy efficiency first before building new energy infrastructure.

There are many ways people can play a part in the development of this latest LTEP. Ontarians can attend any of the Open Houses that are being held across the province or dial into telephone Town Halls. Visit ontario.ca/EnergyTalks to learn where you can participate in the Long-Term Energy Plan consultations in person and online.

The questions in this discussion guide are just a starting point that should in no way limit the scope of the discussion. The guide also includes a glossary to help clear up the mystery often associated with acronyms and technical terms.

The Ministry of Energy is also undertaking a robust engagement with Indigenous communities across the province. Indigenous communities can bring unique perspectives and energy experiences to the long-term energy planning process, and it is important to reflect this in our updated plan and related policy priorities.

The LTEP process

The development of the next LTEP follows the steps set out in recent changes to the Electricity Act 1998. These legislative changes include a requirement for consultation with local communities, stakeholders and other ministries, along with engagement with First Nation and Métis communities. The legislative changes also require a technical report the government must consider when it develops the plan. With the next LTEP, the Ministry of Energy intends to expand the discussion of Ontario’s energy future by including a comprehensive review of the province’s fuels sector and the supply of fuels such as oil, gasoline, propane and natural gas.

In response to the requirement for a technical report, the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) issued the Ontario Planning Outlook (OPO), which examines the province’s future electricity needs, and how they might be met. The Ministry of Energy also released the Fuels Technical Report (FTR), a report that examines the supply and demand for oil, gasoline, propane and natural gas in Ontario.

The facts and analyses in these two reports mark the starting points for the development of the next LTEP and will help guide the consultation process. Both reports take into account other government commitments made in the Climate Change Action Plan, the Climate Change Mitigation and Low-Carbon Economy Act, 2016 and the Vancouver Declaration.

There is no one path to ensuring an affordable, reliable and clean supply of energy for our residents and businesses. The province’s LTEP needs to be flexible, so it can change to meet the needs of future technology, policies or programs. The Ministry intends to publish the next LTEP in 2017, and, together with its agencies, lead the implementation of its recommendations.

Energy use and climate change

To combat climate change, Ontario released a five-year Climate Change Action Plan in June 2016. The Climate Change Action Plan outlines the approaches the government will take to reduce carbon emissions in the province. This plan is likely to have a significant effect on how energy is used in our province. It also proposes to use conservation, energy efficiency and fuel switching to reduce the use of fossil fuels such as oil, gasoline and natural gas and increase the use of clean electricity and clean fuels.

The Climate Change Action Plan will play a key role in the development of the 2017 LTEP, as its intends to share many of the same goals. The OPO incorporates the commitments and targets for 2020 set out in the Climate Change Action Plan. In addition, the proceeds from the cap and trade auctions will be used to fund programs that reduce energy use and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Ontario has already set high standards for building and sustaining a clean, affordable and modern electricity system. In 2014, the province completed the single-largest climate change initiative in North America by completely eliminating coal-fired electricity generation. GHG emissions from Ontario’s electricity sector have fallen by 80% since 2005.

Towards a Broader Energy Focus

Three-quarters of the energy used by Ontarians comes from fossil fuels such as oil, natural gas, and their derivatives. Natural gas, for instance, is commonly used to heat water, homes and buildings in the commercial and industrial sectors. Products derived from crude oil, such as gasoline, diesel and jet fuel, are widely used to fuel cars, trucks, buses and planes.

Simply put, residents of Ontario rely on oil and natural gas to support their basic needs for heat and transportation. So any LTEP needs to take account of how these fossil fuels are used. Ontario produces very little of the oil and natural gas it uses. Almost all of it is delivered from outside the province by interprovincial and international pipelines that are under federal jurisdiction and regulated by the National Energy Board. Previous provincial governments have not focused on oil and natural gas the way they have on the electricity produced in the province.

That began to change in 2013. That was when Ontario, through the 2013 LTEP, established a set of principles the government would use to evaluate oil and natural gas pipeline projects. It also committed, where cost-effective, to put Conservation First in the planning processes for both electricity and natural gas before building new energy infrastructure.

This increased attention received new urgency with the government’s Climate Change Action Plan, and its enabling legislation, the Climate Change Mitigation and Low-Carbon Economy Act, 2016. In light of the province’s emission reduction goals, the 2017 LTEP should take a broader view of the province’s energy needs and consider how the uses of electricity and fossil fuels influence each other. For example, because Ontario’s electricity supply is largely emissions free, commitments in the Climate Change Action Plan foresee a switch from conventional fossil fuels to the use of electricity for heating and cooling buildings and powering transportation. In addition, electric vehicles are becoming a more prominent focus of this discussion.

Work is also underway to add a certain amount of renewable natural gas (RNG) from landfills, sewage treatment plants and agricultural operations to the province’s natural gas supply. This would ensure a cleaner and more efficient use of our existing natural gas pipelines. In the future, it may become more economical to produce hydrogen or synthetic natural gas from clean electricity.

The changes sparked by climate change will affect all aspects of energy demand, and will require the government to take an integrated approach to planning for the transition to a low-carbon economy.