Final reflections

The Panel concludes its work with a true sense of optimism that electrification and the energy transition will drive positive economic, environmental and social change to create a prosperous future for Ontario. The objective of building a clean energy economy is a formidable challenge, but as we have shown here, it is also an unprecedented opportunity. The tectonic shifts in the global energy landscape and the mounting public and private sector commitments to decarbonization are opening up a generational opportunity for investment and economic development. Ontario has a unique opportunity to harness that momentum and take positions in key clean economy value chains that can maximize our prosperity while minimizing environmental damage.

Climate action and the transformation of our economy have the purpose of renewing our prosperity and defending the material, economic and social foundations of our society. Finding a broad and lasting consensus on energy transition contributes to securing our democracy in the long-term.

Ontario’s energy sector is well positioned to seize these opportunities. Our largely emissions-free supply of electricity opens possibilities for widespread and beneficial electrification of energy services. Our innovative and robust energy sector is ready and poised to contribute meaningfully to the transition. And our strong governance frameworks are well suited to manage the complex questions and tensions inherent in an economy-wide transformation.

There are certainly challenges ahead. But we see a solid alignment across the energy sector on the wealth of opportunities before us, and a strong desire to cooperate on the necessary policy, regulatory and governance changes required to capitalize on them. The sector expressed great optimism for the future and an eagerness to contribute to the innovation and adaptation required to effect change. There is broad alignment across the sector on the need for policy clarity, strategic vision and regulatory effectiveness.

There is also strong alignment on the need for an orderly and well-managed energy transition that accelerates decarbonization while maintaining an affordable, reliable and resilient energy system. An inclusive and customer-centred transition presents the opportunity to engage energy customers in the project of decarbonization and deliver a system that better meets all our diverse needs.

Importantly, there is broad optimism that the transition to a clean energy economy provides rich opportunities for economic reconciliation with Indigenous communities. Meaningful collaboration on projects to expand infrastructure, enhance the grid and deliver reliable and affordable energy can create opportunities for investment in Indigenous-led ventures, provide revenue, build capacity and create jobs. Ontario’s energy sector is committed to moving forward to a clean energy economy on the basis of mutual benefit and maximizing prosperity with Indigenous partners.

It is clear to the Panel that electrification and energy transition are not unfolding uniformly across Ontario. Different regions, communities and organizations face unique challenges and opportunities. Historically marginalized and disadvantaged communities risk getting left behind without careful and deliberate consideration and support.

Finally, it is not possible to predict the precise trajectory of a transition of this scale and complexity. It will be shaped by the decisions of countless consumers and other market actors. It will be affected by global economic, social and geopolitical forces that we are unable to anticipate. It will be influenced by the evolving views of citizens and communities within and beyond Ontario. And it will be shaped by an unprecedented pace of technological change. This uncertainty calls for ongoing research, collaboration, innovation, experimentation learning and adaptability. The core focus of our collective efforts should be to approach transformation of our energy system and broader economy with an open mind.

We hope that the recommendations and guiding principles outlined in this report provide a starting point for Ontario to successfully manage and prosper from the coming transformations. The process of evaluating the state of the energy sector and the institutions that govern it must be ongoing and iterative. It will require continuous support from government to align economic and social forces around a common vision and purpose. It will require a deep understanding of the social bases of our energy system and the need to bring people along as citizens, customers and community members. It will necessitate an ongoing dedication to building and maintaining partnerships with stakeholders and Indigenous communities to develop our energy system based on shared values. And it will demand a spirit of innovation and constant learning, a willingness to engage in frequent re-evaluation and making adjustments along the way. The Panel is confident Ontario is up to the challenge.