What we heard

The Electrification and Energy Transition Panel (the Panel) was established in April 2022. The Panel, comprised of Mr. David Collie, as Chair, Professor Monica Gattinger from the University of Ottawa, and Chief Emerita Emily Whetung, former Chief of Curve Lake First Nation, was set up to provide independent advice to government on short-, medium- and long-term opportunities for the energy sector to support Ontario's economy to prepare for electrification and the energy transition.

The Panel was tasked with identifying opportunities to improve the province's long-term energy planning framework, including opportunities to integrate planning between electricity and natural gas systems, as well as opportunities and challenges related to energy sector governance, emerging technologies, affordability, investment and job creation and climate objectives.

From March to July 2023, the Panel conducted one-on-one, group and roundtable virtual engagement sessions and sent out an open call for written feedback with support from a dedicated team within the Ministry of Energy, the Panel Secretariat. More than 200 stakeholders, Indigenous partners and communities, federal, provincial and municipal government departments and agencies, and members of the public provided their input to the Panel. This ‘What We Heard' report captures the key themes the Panel heard across all its engagements.

Executive summary: Key takeaways across themes

The Panel engaged with stakeholders, Indigenous partners, federal, provincial and municipal departments and agencies and members of the general public on six key themes – Indigenous Energy Matters; Energy Planning, Governance & Accountability; Established and Emerging Technologies; Community & Customer Perspectives, Affordability, and Energy Sector Objectives; and Facilitating Economic Growth. Each of the key themes was informed by the Panel's Terms of Reference.

This document provides summaries of feedback received across each of the six key themes. Key takeaways across the themes can be found below:

Key theme one: Indigenous energy matters

  • It is crucial to foster meaningful Indigenous participation and partnerships in clean energy projects, including energy infrastructure and energy efficiency, conservation and demand management initiatives.
  • Capacity-building in Indigenous communities, including stable capacity funding, is required to support meaningful Indigenous engagement, consultation, participation and partnerships.
  • Indigenous participation should take place at the earliest stages of energy planning at community, regional, and provincial planning levels.

Key theme two: Energy planning

  • Long-term energy planning should be led by government and must consider the relationship between natural gas, other fuels, and electricity in a more holistic and integrated way.
  • ‘Net zero' greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 should be the goal for Ontario.
  • Certainty and predictability in long-term energy plans, regulatory frameworks and energy pricing are vital for achieving decarbonization targets and economic success.
  • Distributed energy resources (DERs) have the potential to play a pivotal role in decarbonization and reduce the need for new large-scale generation, distribution and transmission infrastructure as electrification accelerates.

Key theme three: Governance and accountability

  • There are opportunities within existing agency mandates to support more coordination between natural gas and electricity planning.
  • There are opportunities for new agency mandates to support greater consideration of innovative technologies and solutions, and objectives that support ‘net zero' by 2050.
  • Performance metrics are required to measure progress toward electrification and energy transition objectives. Metrics should be flexible, not prescriptive, and stakeholders and Indigenous partners should be engaged in developing them.

Key theme four: Established and emerging technologies

  • Regulatory frameworks should be outcomes-based, flexible, streamlined and consistent to accommodate efficient market entry of new and established technologies.
  • Electrification of end uses and reduction in energy demand for buildings/homes require pathways that make energy-efficient technologies affordable and accessible.
  • Electrification of transportation requires a comprehensive approach to meeting charging needs, including greater coordination between local distribution companies (LDCs) and electric vehicle (EV) stakeholders.
  • Canada and Ontario should work collaboratively to de-risk low carbon technologies, such as hydrogen.

Key theme five: Community and customer perspectives, affordability and energy sector objectives

  • Ongoing community, customer and citizen support are required for successful electrification and energy transition.
  • Proper pacing of energy transition is needed to keep costs low for residential, small business, industrial and commercial consumers.
  • Consumer choice, including the variety of options to ensure reliability in remote/off-grid communities, will be important in ensuring consumer needs are met.
  • Transparent communication, public education, and meaningful and accessible engagement is important for energy planning and to bring consumers along in the transition.

Key theme six: Facilitating economic growth

  • A clean baseload electricity supply is necessary for industries to be competitive amid evolving environmental, social and governance (ESG) measures.
  • Government needs to create an environment where industries can invest in energy efficient equipment to reduce energy consumption and be cost competitive.
  • Government should reduce the burden of the transition for private companies and support industry growth like the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act, including collaboration and alignment of funding opportunities with the federal government.

Overview of the engagement process

The Panel led four streams of engagement, all of which are captured by this What We Heard report. The first three steams were virtual engagements and the fourth stream was an open call for written submissions. A description of each of the engagement streams can be found below. The full list of stakeholders and Indigenous partners engaged over the course of each engagement stream can be found in Appendix A.

The Panel Secretariat staff systematically analyzed feedback, both key messages and explicit recommendations, from virtual engagements and written submissions to the Panel. Staff clustered ideas and recommendations in this What We Heard Report, emphasizing feedback that was raised multiple times. Staff took a comprehensive approach to capturing the diverse input received throughout the Panel's engagements.

Stream one: One-on-one and group-style stakeholder engagements

From March to May 2023, the Panel, with support from Ministry of Energy staff, engaged directly with 58 stakeholders in a series of one-on-one or group-style engagements. The Panel heard from stakeholders, in an open format, regarding their organization's priorities related to electrification and energy transition, including challenges and opportunities.

Stream two: One-on-one and group-style Indigenous engagements

From April to August 2023, the Panel, with support from Ministry of Energy staff, engaged with 14 Indigenous partners in a series of one-on-one and group-style engagements where Indigenous-focused energy policy challenges, opportunities and priorities were discussed.

Stream three: Roundtable engagements with stakeholders and Indigenous partners

From May to June 2023, the Panel engaged with approximately 117 stakeholders and Indigenous partners over 13 roundtable engagements. These roundtable engagements were facilitated by the Policy Innovation Hub within Cabinet Office (Government of Ontario), with support from Ministry of Energy staff.

Each roundtable session explored discussion questions under one of five of the Panel's key themes related to the energy transition and electrification. The full list of discussion questions explored in roundtable engagements can be found in Appendix B. Topics related to Indigenous Energy Matters (key theme one) were explored via roundtable discussions on each of the other five key themes (key themes two to six).

Some of the discussion questions were supplemented by polls conducted during the roundtable engagement sessions to help stimulate conversation amongst attendees. Key poll results are presented in this document.

Stream four: Open call for written submissions

An open call for written submissions was launched to solicit written feedback from stakeholders, Indigenous partners and the public. The discussion guides used for the roundtable engagements were shared as part of the open call invitation package for written responses. A total of 85 written submissions were made to the Panel.

Key theme one: Indigenous energy matters


As described above, the Panel engaged with 14 Indigenous partners in a series of one-on-one and group style engagements. Most partners noted that it is important to clearly distinguish relationships with Indigenous partners, from those with non-Indigenous stakeholders. The term “Indigenous partners” is used to distinguish between Indigenous partners and non-Indigenous stakeholders and includes First Nations and independent communities, Indigenous energy organizations and entities, Political-Territorial-Organizations (PTOs) and Métis governance organizations.

It should be noted that the Panel did not meet with every Indigenous nation or community across Ontario and as such, the feedback may not fully capture all Indigenous perspectives in the province.

During the engagements (engagement stream 2), Indigenous partners emphasized that they want to be included more and collaborate with government and the sector on energy planning, energy projects, policy development, and decision-making to achieve a successful transition across Ontario.

While Indigenous partners were invited to participate in roundtable engagements (engagement stream 3), most organizations that participated in the roundtable engagements were non-Indigenous stakeholder organizations with varying levels of understanding of, and direct involvement with, Indigenous communities.

Although there was broad recognition from non-Indigenous participants of the importance of including Indigenous partners in energy planning, project development and throughout electrification and the energy transition, roundtable participants tended to defer to Indigenous partners on questions regarding opportunities to enhance communities' role in energy decision-making, planning, etc.

Key considerations and alignments

Shared priorities were identified between Indigenous and non-Indigenous participants relating to safety, reliability, affordability, and transparency. Many participants (both Indigenous and non-Indigenous) emphasized the importance of climate change mitigation and adaptation and building resiliency in Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities throughout electrification and the energy transition.

Indigenous partners emphasized the importance of protecting Aboriginal and Treaty rights throughout the transition and raised questions with respect to how government and the energy sector will collaborate with Indigenous communities to ensure that the benefits of electrification and the energy transition are evenly distributed across Ontario. This was raised repeatedly within the context of fuel-switching (switching from high-carbon to low- or no-carbon alternatives) and it was noted that many Indigenous communities rely on gas-powered boats, snowmobiles and all-terrain-vehicles to hunt, fish and practice Culture and Treaty rights. Indigenous partners identified the need for more stable and flexible funding to install and maintain equipment that enables fuel switching.

Participants identified gas stations, either wholly owned by, or operating within an Indigenous community, as integral to communities' local economy, given that both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people purchase gasoline and other goods including locally made products, at gas stations. Concerns were raised over potential impacts to local Indigenous economies as more electric vehicle (EV) charging stations are installed across Ontario and the use of gasoline declines.

Both Indigenous and non-Indigenous participants across engagements highlighted that lower income households experience barriers related to affording energy equipment and installation expenses to address their homes' energy needs, improving their homes' energy efficiency and/or installing electrical safety features. In many Indigenous communities, the inability to overcome these financial barriers can lead to a higher number of structural fires and/or the reliance on alternative energy sources, including wood-burning stoves, propane and diesel fuel.

A widespread switch to electricity presents unique challenges for tenants and low-income households who may not have the option or be able to afford to switch to lower-carbon home energy systems and will be unable to access the benefits of electrification.

Additionally, Indigenous partners and non-Indigenous participants emphasized the opportunity to improve Indigenous participation and partnerships through renewable and clean energy projects, as well as energy efficiency, conservation and demand management initiatives.

The following sections capture in more detail and organize into themes what the Panel heard from Indigenous partners and communities.

Capacity building

Indigenous partners noted that capacity-building within Indigenous communities is required to support their meaningful participation in all stages of energy planning at community, regional and provincial planning levels. Future long-term energy planning should take a regional perspective, recognizing the different opportunities and challenges faced by different areas of the province. Representation from northern and remote communities is critical to address unique energy needs and interests across Ontario. It is also important to consider traditional territories that overlap with current borders, including communities with traditional territories that extend beyond Ontario.

Providing stable capacity funding to Indigenous communities was identified as critical for enabling meaningful and coordinated engagement with Indigenous communities. Indigenous partners flagged the high volume of engagement and consultation requests they receive for both energy and non-energy related projects and that they often lack the appropriate resources to meaningfully provide input into engagements. Stable capacity funding would enable communities to hire designated staff with technical energy knowledge and expertise to ensure Indigenous perspectives are included in planning discussions and engagements.

Other capacity building needs include educational resources that enhance communities' understanding of the Ontario energy system and support informed community conversations on energy needs and interests. Skills development and training was also mentioned to improve Indigenous participation in energy projects and planning discussions.

The suite of supports available through the Independent Electricity System Operator's (IESO) Indigenous Energy Support Programs was highlighted as a good example of current capacity building initiatives, including the Community Energy Champion program and Community Energy Plan program. Participants identified opportunities to expand these programs to provide longer-term funding to better support Community Energy Champions and ensure consistent usage and maintenance of community energy plans.

The Indigenous Clean Energy Inc.'s 20/20 Catalyst Program and the First Nations Major Projects Coalition (FNMPC) were referenced by Indigenous partners as some examples of positive initiatives that support Indigenous-led capacity building efforts. Participants appreciate that the 20/20 Catalyst program provides practical and applied learning about renewable energy projects, community energy planning, energy efficiency and conservation, business management and advanced energy systems, and the business capacity support that FNMPC provides. In addition, the program supports participants to move clean energy projects forward on the ground and enhances Indigenous participation in various energy projects.

Increasing capacity for procurement by Indigenous entities and businesses was also highlighted in engagements as a strategy to improve Indigenous participation and inclusion across infrastructure and energy development projects.

Meaningful inclusion and governance

Engagement at the earliest opportunity and on an ongoing basis is key to building trust, enabling true partnerships, supporting meaningful consultation and improving long-term outcomes. Impacts to Indigenous communities that should be considered in the energy planning process include Treaty rights, harvesting rights, hunting rights, access to clean water and stewardship of the environment.

Indigenous partners also emphasized the importance of understanding communities and nations' governance structures, as well as engagement preferences and protocols for supporting more meaningful and coordinated engagement.

Some Indigenous partners identified toolkits that they have developed, which are available online, that outline how government should engage with a particular nation or community. For example, Grand Council Treaty #3 highlighted their toolkit on Manito Aki Inakonigaawin, their nation's Great Earth Law, and discussed the importance of enhanced governance collaboration between Indigenous partners and government.

Improving Indigenous representation in existing provincial governance structures, or the creation of any new governance structure was also discussed by Indigenous partners. Indigenous representation and meaningful inclusion of Indigenous perspectives on agencies' executive boards and across all planning efforts is required to support full Indigenous inclusion.

Holistic and integrative approaches

Meaningful engagement and consultation with Indigenous partners is critical to supporting more holistic and integrative approaches to energy planning and to ensure that various energy needs and interests are considered.

Indigenous partners emphasized the importance of addressing the cumulative impacts of energy projects on communities and discussed the opportunity that electrification and the energy transition represent towards full Indigenous inclusion and participation.

Indigenous partners discussed the linkage between energy and community health and well-being and spoke of the various benefits of energy projects and planning that meaningfully include Indigenous perspectives. For example, the Wataynikaneyap Transmission Power project set mandatory requirements for Indigenous employment, training and skills development throughout the project phases, and mandated restrictions on the use of pesticides that could adversely impact the health of the community and the land. The project guarantees long-term mutual economic benefits for project partners and helps to increase communities' connection to more safe, reliable and affordable energy. The project was highlighted by Indigenous and non-Indigenous partners as an example of an industry partnership that improves Indigenous participation in project development and in supporting overall community health and well-being. Flexibility, collaboration and public support from government, agencies and industry partners were cited as some critical ingredients to ensure success.

However, Indigenous partners noted opportunities for improving and strengthening integrative and holistic approaches to partnerships and project development. For example, they noted that projects can better assess and consider environmental and cultural impacts in addition to bottom line project costs. Indigenous communities are often responding to overlapping crises, including mental health and addictions, chronic poverty, and intergenerational traumas due to the legacy of colonialism. Additional time and resources are required to ensure that Indigenous perspectives are meaningfully included and inform project development and planning.

In addition, improving coordination and alignment across jurisdictions, where possible, and particularly between Ontario and the federal government, could help to better coordinate Indigenous feedback, develop and implement responsive policies and programs and align funding to strengthen Indigenous participation and inclusion in the energy transition.

Innovation and economic reconciliation

Indigenous partners noted that there is an opportunity to increase Indigenous participation where there are alignments between economic development project goals and the objectives of Indigenous communities. Indigenous partners emphasized the co-benefits of Indigenous and industry partnerships and Indigenous project ownership, including improved energy access, community and broader economic growth, employment and improved community health and well-being.

Indigenous partners identified communities' lack of access to financing as a key barrier to partnerships and Indigenous participation in energy projects. The Aboriginal Loan Guarantee Program administered by the Ontario Financing Authority was repeatedly identified as having positive impacts on improving access to capital and increasing project partnerships and Indigenous participation. Strong support and recommendations to expand the program, and others like it, was expressed.

Impact Benefit Agreements (IBAs) between communities and project proponents were noted as an alternative to partnership in the absence of specific commercial interests in Indigenous ownership and equity. However, it was also noted that in the energy sector (and other sectors), there has been a shift away from IBAs towards equity partnerships with long-term benefits for Indigenous communities. Overall, government must prioritize economic reconciliation with Indigenous communities to support long-term benefits.

Accountability and transparency

Finally, Indigenous partners emphasized the importance of accountability and transparency to trust and relationship building with Indigenous communities.

Communities want a better understanding of the current energy landscape in Ontario, including clear and ongoing information related to the energy transition and early, coordinated engagement to discuss the potential impacts on Indigenous communities and ratepayers within those communities.

Indigenous partners expressed the need for greater accountability to Indigenous communities, particularly, for government to demonstrate how policy development and decision making is informed by the feedback received from Indigenous communities. Indigenous partners emphasized that repeated engagement with Indigenous communities, without demonstrating how their feedback is integrated into government decision making, erodes trust and meaningful relationships.

Changes to agency roles, responsibilities, and mandates was mentioned by both Indigenous and non-Indigenous participants throughout the engagements. Suggested changes include: a review of current processes to ensure early engagement with Indigenous people regarding planning, development and procurement; ensuring Indigenous representation on advisory committees and boards and demonstrating how Indigenous perspectives are reflected in and inform organizational efforts, policy development and decision-making.

Theme two: Energy planning


Throughout the engagements, the Panel explored opportunities to enhance long-term, integrated energy planning by coordinating resources for electricity and fuels. This includes topics such as the roles and responsibilities of provincial energy agencies and identifying strategies to optimize energy demand while decarbonizing the energy supply.

Identifying planning roles and entities

Roles and responsibilities for long-term energy planning

A major focus of the engagements was who should be responsible for long-term integrated energy planning and what roles they should play in this process. Participants shared that government should have a central role in planning for the energy transition and providing clear and stable policy direction; however, there was no clear consensus on which entity should be responsible for long-term energy planning. Several options and considerations were raised, including the potential establishment of a new entity or expanded roles for existing energy sector players/agencies (Ministry of Energy, Ontario Energy Board (OEB) and/or the IESO). A recurring theme of the discussion; however, was that accountability will be crucial for whichever entity is responsible for leading the energy planning process.

Figure 1: Participants' opinions on the ideal entity for planning
EntityNumber of responses%
Ministry of Energy2026%
IESO with expanded mandate1519%
OEB with revised mandate1418%
Another entity that exists today34%
A new entity2633%

Figure 1: Energy planning roundtable participants were asked to “nominate the entity best suited to lead long-term planning” via a poll. Response options were ‘Ministry of Energy, IESO with an expanded mandate, OEB with an expanded mandate, another entity that already exists, and a new entity.' Poll respondents could only select one option. Results were shared back to the group, to stimulate dialogue. Of the 78 poll respondents across all energy planning round tables, most thought that one of the existing entities (Ministry of Energy, OEB, IESO) is best suited to be responsible for long-term energy planning while approximately one third of poll respondents indicated that a new entity would be best suited to be responsible for long-term energy planning.

Figure 2: Participant's opinions on the ideal "vantage point" for planning
Vantage pointsNumber of responses%

Figure 2: Energy planning roundtable participants were asked to share perspectives on the most critical planning vantage point starting with the following poll-based question “when it comes to Ontario's long-term energy planning, what are the three (3) most important levels to coordinate plans. Response options were ‘International Plan, Country-wide Plan, Interprovincial Plan, Province-wide Plan, Municipal Plan, and Community Plan.' Results were shared back with the group to stimulate dialogue. A total of 217 poll responses were received from 76 respondents. Across all energy planning roundtables, the provincial-level and regional-level were selected as being the ideal vantage point for planning.

While participants questioned if long-term energy planning is an inherently political process, they generally agreed that technical planning should be shielded from politics as much as possible. In one roundtable group, participants agreed that the OEB is not the right body to conduct long-term planning due to its role in reviewing and “pressure testing” other entities' work through rate regulation. It was clear to participants that the government's ability to issue directives to the OEB and IESO must be considered; however, some participants felt that government directives interfere with independent agency processes.

Overall, roundtable participants agreed that a new long-term energy planning process is needed, but there was disagreement about whether a new entity is required to implement that process effectively. As one participant put it, “evolution, not revolution” may be the best route for long-term energy planning, by expanding mandates rather than creating a new entity. One proposed solution was that the province could identify the required mechanisms, functions and tasks in the planning process and use them to inform the design of an entity and review of existing entities' mandates.

Written submissions generally agreed that any planning entity must have a broad mandate to incorporate the concerns of a wide array of stakeholders. Meaningful engagement at the earliest stages of development – as well as during project planning, execution and operations – would support timely execution of energy infrastructure projects. It was noted that Ontario currently lacks a single organization to coordinate stakeholders and develop an integrated plan for a net zero energy system.

Participants generally agreed that any entity conducting long-term planning must be able to independently “connect the dots” across complex systems and consider the relationship between gas, other fuels and electricity in a more holistic way. Coordinating long-term energy planning will require a comprehensive approach that considers the structure and resources available to the planning entity and the integrated planning processes that bring key stakeholders together. Further, the culture of the staff working on long-term energy planning must permit long-term, integrative, and connective thinking to tackle the challenge at hand – and have the appropriate funding and resources to be successful and “think outside of the box” where needed to achieve key objectives.

With respect to specific responsibilities and entities, participants expressed varying opinions:

  • Respondents generally agreed that the government should establish high-level policy objectives related to integrated energy planning, defining a pathway to achieving net zero emissions, and balancing objectives of reliability and affordability. These objectives must be long-term and enduring to avoid drastic changes in direction from government. Planning and execution should be left to other entities.
  • Most respondents called for the IESO to take on an expanded mandate for integrated and regional planning and to play a bigger role in aggregation of DERs to maximize benefits and diminish need for new infrastructure.
  • Most respondents generally agreed that the OEB should retain its role in setting rates and regulating the energy sector in a way that serves the public interest and that it should play a stronger role in enabling the integration of DERs. Respondents also expressed support for the OEB to enable distributors to plan locally and be involved in the DER procurement process.
  • Written submissions called for LDCs to be further empowered to play a leading role in the development of their own network, create programs to meet local needs, and act as key parties contributing to broader cross-sector plans.
  • Many respondents highlighted the need to involve municipalities more directly in local-energy planning and siting of new projects. Some written submissions described a need to develop integrated localized energy systems planning jointly between municipalities, utilities and the IESO. Better communication between municipalities and LDCs on system needs and infrastructure planning was identified as a priority.

Energy planning priorities

Written submissions emphasized the need for an energy system that is reliable, affordable, and sustainable, ensuring adequate power supply to meet the needs of an electrifying economy while preserving customer choice. The planning process should be robust, transparency and accountable by providing policy certainty and early identification of needs to enable expedient development of long-lead assets.

Participants across the engagements repeatedly stated that Ontario's energy sector needs more clarity and certainty:

  • Clear provincial direction with respect to an economy-wide integrated energy policy.
  • Provincial alignment with federal and municipal policies that interact with the energy sector and other sectors (e.g., Canada's Zero-Emission Vehicle (ZEV) mandate, municipal housing strategies, strategies for northern development and critical minerals).
  • More guidance from the OEB on its regulatory policies and decision-making processes so that utilities (electricity and natural gas) are better able to prepare and anticipate outcomes of applications that are brought to Board for approval.

Written submissions placed a strong emphasis on policy clarity including a clearly articulated emissions reduction target. Respondents recommended committing Ontario to targeting a net zero emissions economy by 2050, or sooner, which would provide a solid foundation to enable energy planning decisions that promote greater electrification and more sources of clean energy supply. Written submissions also recommended that Ontario policies, planning, and regulations align with a 2035 net zero electricity grid target, to align with commitments made by Canada and the United States. Such a target would provide policy clarity to investors and businesses and enable investments in clean energy technologies.

Feedback from one-on-one engagements suggested that this policy clarity should guide energy planning processes, electricity procurement and natural gas infrastructure decisions frameworks, and energy infrastructure investment/development.


Written submissions generally agreed that the government should provide overall direction regarding procurement (established policy objectives) but leave design specifics and plans to the IESO, with the OEB reviewing plans to ensure they meet the government's overall direction and are cost-effective. Respondents called for the IESO to be empowered with the necessary tools, mandate and independence for reliable, emissions-free grid planning and procurement, and the flexibility to plan for various electrification scenarios, account for potential demand impacts, and procure the required electricity supply. Within this framework, a guiding premise of long-term energy plans should be to continue to rely on competitive procurement whenever feasible to ensure the most cost-effective projects are selected.

Improving the planning process and outcomes

Roundtable participants considered how to improve the planning process and its outcomes. Predictability, flexibility and transparency were recurring themes in this discussion. One participant suggested that a principled approach to energy planning, rather than a prescriptive one, will maintain flexibility as conditions change. In addition, transparency will help to create buy-in, especially regarding ‘no-regrets' choices which participants noted, would help Ontario find the balance between over- or under-building the province's energy system while working to keep ratepayer costs low. Some participants indicated that while we can learn from other jurisdictions, there should be caution over direct comparisons when developing long-term energy plans due to the uniqueness of Ontario's system. It is generally clear that there needs to be a framework or strategy from government to indicate where the province is going.

Participants shared that while affordability will be a real concern throughout the transition, other measures of success (like reliable energy for all people in Ontario) should also be considered. For instance, what “no-regrets” choices can we make today and how do we make and encourage the types of decisions that will last decades?

Furthermore, roundtable participants noted that more collaborative practices such as integrating energy planning with land use and labour planning are critical for the overall success of the transition. This was echoed by feedback from written submissions which emphasized the benefits of a cross-sectoral approach, arguing that energy, economic development, and climate policy can no longer be viewed as separate planning processes. Rather, an all-of-government approach is required, working with other key ministries and stakeholders in other key sectors.

Pathways studies

Participants considered that the complexity of the energy transition will require frequent long-term energy plans and economy-wide energy pathway assessments, including information from various sectors. Scenario-based planning will be important, participants noted, as weather-related events become more frequent and as technological advancements outpace market structures. For these reasons, frequent pathways studies (e.g., every three to five years) will be needed to keep up with the pace of change. Scenario-based planning might also consider social and economic changes in the customer base that could become significant consumers of energy in the future. Further, sub-sector pathways, as well as regional studies, were identified as important, given that each sector will have its own challenges and opportunities related to the timing and speed of the transition to clean energy. Some participants provided examples of entities that the province could look to support them in this kind of work and suggested that there should be direction to iterate on work started by the Ministry's current Cost-Effective Energy Pathways Study.

Outcomes-oriented energy planning

Participants largely considered the planning process to be more important than the plan itself. As previously noted, participants stated that clarity, certainty and a predictable long-term energy plan would be vital for achieving provincial decarbonization targets or goals. Planning should include more milestones and market mechanisms, where appropriate. By balancing regulation and markets appropriately, the government should be able to indicate what needs to happen and enable system actors to make it happen.

Figure 3: Suggested planning outcome
Suggested planning outcomeNumber of responses%
Supports net zero/decarbonization goals (e.g., GHG emission reductions)5257.1%
Predictable long-term energy policies3639.6%
Reliable and resilient energy supply that consider electricity and fuels3639.6%
Flexible to adapt to changing circumstances including new technologies3538.5%
Affordable energy bills for residential and industrial consumers3336.3%
Enables economically competitive industry (e.g., investment attraction)2527.5%
Transparent policy and program development and implementation1718.7%
Enables effective decision-making1617.6%
Supports climate change adaptation1415.4%
Enables access to financing to enable the energy transition1213.2%

Figure 3: Energy planning roundtable participants were asked to help prioritize critical outcomes for long-term energy planning starting with the following poll-based ask “help [the Panel] consider the balance [between secure & reliable energy, clean & sustainable energy, and accessible & affordable energy] and other desired outcomes of long-term energy planning, by choosing three (3) outcomes Results were shared back to the group, to stimulate dialogue. Response options were, ‘Supports net zero/decarbonization goals (e.g., GHG emission reductions), Predictable long-term energy policies , Reliable and resilient energy supply that consider electricity and fuels, Flexible to adapt to changing circumstances including new technologies, Affordable energy bills for residential and industrial consumers, Enables economically competitive industry (e.g., investment attraction), Transparent policy and program development and implementation, Enables effective decision-making, Supports climate change adaptation, and Enables access to financing to enable the energy transition.' A total of 276 responses were received from 91 poll respondents. Across all energy planning roundtables net zero / decarbonization goals was the top choice for planning outcomes followed by predictable long-term energy policies, and reliable & resilient energy supply that consider electricity and fuels.

Some submissions to the open call suggested that long-term energy planning should support Ontario's decarbonization objectives, and that direct long-term investment should be complemented by short-term planning to meet immediate needs.

A new planning process must find a careful balance between centralization and decentralization, but also horizontal and vertical planning. There was some concern among participants about how recent long-term energy plans have focused on least-cost solutions, thereby picking winners in a way that ignores other benefits. Some participants felt this approach was too narrow. Many participants in the roundtables and one-on-one engagements suggested that provincial priorities such as decarbonization, Made-in-Ontario, Indigenous Reconciliation, low-cost energy and local circumstances, could form a broader umbrella under which technology types and solutions are evaluated. To support this analysis, respondents suggested that the IESO and the OEB should be required to report regularly on the progress of decarbonization efforts in both the electricity and natural gas sectors. Open call respondents also pointed to the importance of considering broader benefits such as avoided damage from climate change related events, better health outcomes and regional job impacts as benefits in the energy transition. Some suggested that enabling planning agencies to consider broader economic and environmental benefits would allow for a more holistic view of the merits of different projects.

Broader socioeconomic factors may need to be included in the analysis and may go so far as life-cycle analysis. Some participants held the view that local planning and solving specific local problems (e.g., rural versus urban) may reduce the need to expand bulk generation. Participants also agreed that Indigenous values should be embedded in planning or guide planning.

Multiple respondents to the open call for submissions emphasized the need for energy planning to consider the impacts of climate change on electricity supply, and to proactively implement climate adaptation measures to ensure that assets and infrastructure are protected against climate hazards.

Enabling regulation

Written submissions emphasized that regulatory barriers are inhibiting the effective and efficient planning and execution of clean energy projects. Respondents noted that approval timelines are too long to meet 2050 net zero targets, and that the province should streamline regulatory processes (including environmental and regulatory approval and oversight) to support timely build-out. Additionally, submissions suggested that government should work to enable mechanisms for cost recovery of early investments, including siting.

Coordinating resources for energy supply, including electricity and fuels

Energy sources

Participants discussed broadly what fuel and electricity types could be best suited to meet future needs and indicated that a more in-depth understanding of economic growth in Ontario would better identify supply needs and necessary coordination between resources. Some participants in the roundtables and one-on-one engagements agreed that decisions related to fuels and other energy sources, such as nuclear or renewables, must also be accompanied by accessible information about their impacts on near and long-term energy costs and environmental objectives so that customers can better understand the energy transition and their individual choices.

There were concerns about the potential use of new fuel types to meet energy needs instead of prioritizing using existing resources more efficiently. There was agreement among many participants that use of existing energy infrastructure and energy solutions (e.g., energy efficiency, demand side management, conservation, and natural gas infrastructure) should be optimized before any major investments in new infrastructure are made.

Figure 4: Potential fuels
Fuelsfootnote 1Number of responses%
Renewable natural gas4963.6%
Natural gas3748.1%
Wood and biomass2026.0%
Oil products45.2%

Figure 4: Energy planning roundtable participants were asked to select three (3) fuels that have the most potential to be integrated into a long-term energy planning framework Results shared back to the group, to stimulate dialogue. Response options were “Biofuels, Hydrogen, Natural Gas, Oil products, Propane, Renewable Natural Gas, Wood & Biomass, Others”. A total of 212 responses were received from 77 poll respondents. Across all energy planning roundtables Hydrogen, followed by renewable natural gas and natural gas, were the most highly rated for their potential to be integrated into a long-term planning framework.

Written submissions noted that fuels and electricity demand and supply side alternative options (including emerging technologies) must be fully considered and evaluated, with valuation of generation options applying a full cost accounting. Respondents advised that long-term energy planning must account for the impact of transitioning away from natural gas as a primary stored form of energy for heating use. It was suggested that current energy planning lacks specific considerations for developing low-carbon capacity for building heating.

There was consensus that distributed energy resources (DERs) can play a vital role in decarbonization and reduce the need for new builds as electrification accelerates. Participants noted that, among other services, DERs can be used behind or in-front of the meter to provide capacity and voltage support and can help with capacity shortfalls in long-term procurements, thereby resulting in bulk system benefits in the form of deferred or avoided transmission and generation investments. However, to leverage DERs to achieve these outcomes, greater visibility into all assets was identified as a pre-requisite, including larger roles for local distribution companies (LDCs) in DER deployment. Through one-on-one engagements, some stakeholders mentioned that LDCs could provide localized DER solutions if the regulatory environment was more flexible or permissible either under existing business models or a new distribution system operator (DSO) type of model. LDCs were identified as a key potential coordinator of local energy markets because their visibility into many DER assets connected to local distribution systems enables LDCs to load match nearby supply resources.

Many participants agreed that there is currently a lack of regulatory and system flexibility to integrate and maximize the potential of DERs and emphasized the need for more flexible market mechanisms. For example, open call respondents suggested that regulatory solutions to create space for DER aggregators to provide energy and ancillary services could help manage demand and promote the use of DERs. Others suggested that “distribution activity” definitions be expanded to allow LDCs to become DSOs and load serving entities. Facilitating greater data sharing and communication between DERs, LDCs, and the IESO, either directly or indirectly, was identified as a priority. It was suggested that other jurisdictions be looked to for lessons learned about the strategic deployment of DERs to ensure a cost-effective outcome.

Stranded assets

In the roundtable discussions, participants noted that a fear of stranded assets and significant costs should not delay bringing new assets online. Long lead times mean that proactively incurring some upfront costs on projects may be necessary to create the affordable system Ontario needs in the long term. Many noted that much more coordination and integration will be required for long-term planning of the energy transition to avoid stranding assets.

Knowledge sharing and community considerations for planning, including Indigenous perspectives

Overall, participants flagged the need for more and earlier engagement and consultation on energy planning. Participants particularly stressed the need for more and earlier engagement and consultation with Indigenous partners. If long-term energy plans are to be successful, Indigenous people should be part of the plan, not just respondents. Accessible communications strategies will be required to educate customers about the costs of different energy sources, energy and financial savings opportunities and rationale for short- and long-term decisions (such as natural gas for peaking capacity and new nuclear to support bulk system reliability longer term). Knowledge sharing and engagement approaches that effectively communicate the risks and opportunities of the energy transition in plain language, and embrace diversity and inclusion, will help to ensure that public perception helps drive informed change. Early and frequent engagement will also help to reduce project lead times and expedite projects in the medium-term and long-term. There were also unique suggestions for how actors could better work with government. One participant suggested that the province set up a concierge service to help projects move through approvals, as is done in some U.S. states.

Involvement from Indigenous communities was identified as imperative to the transition. One suggestion that came up repeatedly from participants is that Indigenous partners should lead and fully participate in energy projects and project planning. This may include equity partnership models, with participants acknowledging that under current arrangements Indigenous partners may not receive returns on investment until the project has achieved completion years out.

Planning for efficiency and conservation

The Panel heard recurring feedback that energy efficiency and conservation are crucial parts of the long-term energy planning discussion. One broadly shared opinion was that “we should be investing in all cost-effective efficiency opportunities before investing in new generation” and that we first need to focus on “getting energy efficiency and demand side management (DSM) right.” Demand-side management was seen by some respondents as critical to help reduce peak demand, minimize the need for additional generation capacity and enhance overall system efficiency.

Respondents called for the province to speed up and expand energy efficiency, conservation, and demand management (CDM) programs, and to ensure that such programs and measures are included in long-term plans for decarbonization. Ambitious but realistic targets for energy conservation should be developed with sector stakeholders considering technical feasibility, cost-effectiveness and market dynamics. It was suggested that future studies and a dedicated innovation stream should focus on opportunities to enhance and accelerate energy efficiency efforts. Furthermore, respondents said that natural gas DSM and electricity CDM programs should be coordinated to optimize energy savings and emissions reductions.

Open call respondents also suggested the need for a LDC-centric CDM framework and suggested that LDCs are best positioned to deliver timely, targeted programs that align with system needs and optimize energy savings. Respondents called for expansion of CDM programs to include efficient electrification and fuel switching and emphasized the need for a “simple, certain and enduring funding model” to support such activities.

There were concerns that a focus on conservation could lower quality of life for some households, but participants largely saw conservation as a positive way to reducing energy waste.

Inter-jurisdictional continuum of planning (local and regional to provincial and federal)

Regarding the inter-jurisdictional continuum of planning, participants noted that policies can change or differ rapidly from government to government and between orders of government, which creates uncertainties for stakeholders in planning for the long term. A commonly expressed view was that plans must consider policies of all levels of government. Cooperation and alignment of targets will be critical to attract worldwide investment to Canadian jurisdictions. As a result, open call respondents suggested that Provincial officials should be actively engaged with their federal counterparts in the development and rollout of programs to ensure alignment on energy transition goals.

Open call respondents called for more direct involvement of LDCs and other local and regional stakeholders in planning and emphasized a need to develop integrated local energy system planning involving municipalities. They suggested that Ontario would benefit from a planning framework that leveraged bottom-up solutions to meet top-down targets set by provincial energy policy. Many municipalities have an interest in and recognize the importance of transitioning to a decarbonized future, but some do not have the capacity or resources (financial and non-financial) to succeed.

Indeed, through one-on-one engagements, the Panel heard that municipalities have a key role to play in the energy transition since they are one of the important communication links between business, industry, LDCs and the public. For this reason, some one-on-one participants suggested that municipalities be included in planning and development from the early stages. Furthermore, we heard that greater collaboration among municipalities would provide opportunities to share best practices, identify synergies, and become more economically competitive. Finally, there was interest in community level planning, including providing procurement powers to LDCs and cooperative enterprises as a model, for devolved and localized planning.

Interties with other jurisdictions and energy trading – importing and exporting – were raised by numerous participants. Some participants shared the view that interties could create more stability and opportunity in the system. They emphasized the importance of inter-jurisdictional collaboration between multiple orders of government to coordinate the development of energy infrastructure corridors and better integrate electricity systems. Others disagreed with this view, saying that this approach could lead to costly overbuilding with uncertain financing, as well as risks to supply, and concern about Ontario's ability to export surplus electricity at a profit.

Theme three: Governance and accountability

Throughout the engagements, the Panel explored opportunities and challenges to improve energy sector governance and accountability. This included topics such as potential changes to agency mandates and regulatory frameworks, and new performance metrics for the province and energy agencies to support successful electrification and energy transition.

Adjusting mandates

Role for government

Participants across all streams of engagements generally agreed that government has one of the most influential roles to play to support electrification and energy transition. Overall, participants shared the belief that analysis and future visioning is required to “connect the dots” for decarbonization. Government should have ultimate responsibility by setting clear policy direction, establishing goals and objectives and assuming responsibility for outcomes. However, participants across engagements generally agreed that government should not interfere in planning, procurement, or day-to-day operations. We heard that government should commit to not introducing legislation or issue directives without attaching a cost-benefit analysis and demonstrating that alternative approaches have been quantitatively and qualitatively considered.

Careful analysis is required to identify politically palatable options, disproportionate impacts, the potential for stranded assets, and unintended consequences. A clear vision will help guide short-, medium- and long-term actions.

Open call submissions stressed the importance of improving regulatory coordination between different orders of government to streamline project assessment and approval. It was suggested that aligning mandates between Canada, Ontario and provincial energy agencies could remove duplication and expedite infrastructure development. Another suggestion from open call submissions was that governance frameworks should be adjusted to enable more local solutions and empower communities to implement them. Flexibility towards local solutions would respect local challenges, opportunities, interests, and cultures.

Some open call submissions suggested that the government needs to properly empower agencies to support the energy transition. One open call submission suggested that the government needed to provide the OEB with more appropriate tools to protect ratepayers through the transition.

Mandate enhancements

When discussing agency mandates, numerous participants shared the view that increased line of sight into, and coordination within, existing agency mandates is needed. There were several comments about the need to future-proof mandates so that they do not require reactive pauses or redesigns. It was also suggested that more alignment is required across ministries as well as between the federal and provincial governments and agencies. Some participants were concerned that there is no regulatory body that deals with policy objectives other than reliability and affordability and suggested creating mandates to cover other sets of decisions (such as climate goals).

OEB mandate enhancements

Dual mandates for the OEB (sector regulation plus planning) were discussed with caution, as participants felt that regulators with dual mandates are generally less effective than those with single mandates. Instead, some participants recommended that clearer legislation and less backstop reliance on Ministerial directives would help agencies best achieve mandated objectives.

Figure 5: Participants' level of agreement on the following statement: "The OEB's mandate is sufficient to meet future needs."
OEB mandate status quo suitabilityNumber of responses%
Strongly Disagree722.6%
Strongly Agree26.5%

Figure 5: Governance and accountability roundtable participants were asked to consider the potential aims of the OEB including innovation, economic development, coordination and integration between electricity and natural gas systems, climate change mitigation, and Indigenous ownership and participation in energy projects. They were then asked to rate whether “the OEB's mandate is suitable for these aims and does not require changes.” Poll respondents could only choose one option. Results were shared back to the group, to stimulate dialogue. Of the 29 respondents across both governance and accountability roundtables, most thought that the OEB's current mandate was not suitable for these aims while approximately one fifth of poll respondents indicated that the OEB is suitable for these aims.

As noted in the energy planning section, participants agreed that there is a need for mandates that support greater consideration of innovative technologies and solutions. Some pointed to the OEB Sandbox and other similar activities as examples of frontline innovation that are necessary to encourage fast feedback to let agencies “interpret the business they should be in.” One participant suggested that mandates for information sharing be created so that market participants can be more informed when making business decisions. Roundtable participants felt that technology forecasts should be transparent for all system actors.

Various stakeholders' written submissions recommended broadening the OEB's mandate to include a review of electricity generation planning and procurement. Elements of this broadened mandate also included expanding the regulatory oversight of the OEB to include hydrogen (supply, transport and storage), incorporating GHG emissions reductions as a core objective, meaningful Indigenous participation, as well as broader factors such as social and economic development.

One written submission emphasized the importance of the OEB ensuring that it has the authority to regulate the conduct of those who interact directly with traditional end use customers (e.g., contract rules, cancellation fees) where appropriate. This may be through new codes or amendments to the Energy Consumer Protection Act, 2010. Similarly, some participants suggested that the OEB should have more appropriate tools to act as the protector of ratepayers.

IESO mandate enhancements

Open-call respondents generally recommended expanding the IESO's mandate to also include emission reductions, as this would allow the IESO to consider decarbonization in conjunction with reliability and affordability. Indigenous ownership and equity participation in energy projects was also proposed as a mandate enhancement for the IESO. Stakeholders emphasized streamlining the IESO's regulatory, approval and permitting processes to reduce red tape and costs.

New entity

The feedback pertaining to creating a new entity to lead the energy transition was decidedly split.

Some roundtable participants called for a separation between the development and oversight of long-term plans, but also shared the concern that a new planning entity could complicate the energy transition. Some participants felt that creating a new entity would lead to another layer of bureaucracy, red tape and it would take too much time to set up. Further, others felt that current agencies are adequate to support a transition and a new entity is not required.

On the other hand, participants highlighted that a new entity with more capacity to think about the world differently might be needed given the institutional memory and legacy of existing agencies that might pose a barrier to this new kind of thinking. Yet others felt there is an opportunity to leverage pre-existing institutional arrangements with altered mandates.

A few written submissions from stakeholders called for the creation of a new entity to lead integrated energy planning. This entity's mandate was suggested to encompass electricity, space heating and cooling, transportation and community energy plans. A new entity could, in their view, ensure holistic, collaborative planning that includes all forms of energy.

Participants stressed the centrality of consultation in agency mandates and in government policy development. Participants felt that the most realistic level for engagement is the strategic level, when policy direction is being set but that the regulatory level, which can be quite technical, must have engagement as well. Overall, discussions emphasized the need for and importance of two-way dialogue, inclusion of diverse perspectives in consultation efforts, and adequate preparation for stakeholders and Indigenous partners to ensure meaningful participation.

Opportunities within existing mandates

Participants generally agreed, however, that there could be opportunities within existing OEB and IESO mandates to do more coordination between gas and electricity planning. It was suggested that greater coordination could occur between the IESO, natural gas companies and LDCs, as applicable, throughout all planning processes – bulk, regional and within distribution system planning.

Existing OEB mandate

It was noted that the OEB might be the best suited to take on a lead role in oversight of coordinated energy planning. In this example, participants also emphasized the need for more clarity and policy direction to help ensure planning consistency between the different organizations and their organizational cultures.

Figure 6: Participants' level of agreement on the following statement: "The IESO's mandate is sufficient to meet future needs."
IESO mandate status quo suitabilityNumber of responses%
Strongly Disagree517.2%
Strongly Agree13.4%

Figure 6: Governance and accountability roundtable participants were asked to consider the potential aims of the IESO including innovation, economic development, coordination and integration between electricity and natural gas systems, climate change mitigation, and Indigenous ownership and participation in energy projects. They were then asked to rate whether “the IESO's mandate is suitable for these aims and does not require changes.” Poll respondents could only choose one option. Results were shared back to the group, to stimulate dialogue. Of the 29 respondents across both governance and accountability roundtables, most thought that the IESO's current mandate was not suitable for these aims while approximately one quarter of poll respondents indicated that the IESO is suitable for these aims.

One-on-one engagement participants also highlighted that they perceived a disconnect between policy objectives and regulatory implementation at the adjudicative level resulting in poor predictability regarding OEB decisions in some cases. Streamlining of the OEB's mandate with government policy direction was indicated as being an important solution and component of electrification and energy transition. Overall, clarity, accountability and transparency of direction were identified as crucial to enhancing the effectiveness of energy sector governance.

While most stakeholders recommended changes to the IESO's mandate, some submissions pointed out that the IESO (under the guidance of the Ministry of Energy) could play a larger role in planning and operationalizing the resources required for the province's electricity needs, so long as the government sets forth clear policy objectives/parameters for the IESO.

Existing LDC roles and responsibilities

Engagement participants expressed different views concerning the role of LDCs in a decarbonizing energy system. Many respondents, across multiple avenues of engagement, expressed support for an expansion of the role of LDCs in the energy system.

In one-on-one engagements, multiple participants recommended that the province expand the role of LDCs to act as Distribution System Operators (DSOs). It was suggested that such a model would minimize customer energy costs, maximize the value of DERs and improve grid resiliency, while enabling customer participation. Another one-on-one engagement participant agreed that the DSO model provided significant benefits, adding that constructing local electricity markets and encouraging third-party competition to secure and dispatch DERs could decrease the need for major capital investments.

One open call submission suggested that the Ontario Energy Board Act, 1998 should be reformed to expand the role of LDCs in the system, creating more regulatory flexibility to conduct business activities aside from that of electricity distribution. On the other hand, some open call submissions suggested that the role of LDCs should not be expanded as this would give them an unfair market advantage, harming competition and increasing costs.

Open call respondents suggested that if the role of LDCs is expanded, then the framework for LDC remuneration needs to pivot toward a more incentive-based or outcome-based structure. LDCs, it was suggested, should be rewarded for delivering services at lower costs, not penalized through rates of return or revenue reduction. It was also suggested in one open call submission that LDCs required greater flexibility to make investments to maintain and enhance reliability for customers. Participants also noted that decisions concerning local infrastructure choices could be considered within specific regional plans, incorporating input from municipalities, LDCs, and other stakeholders.

Climate targets and commitments

Participants discussed climate targets and commitments. There was general agreement that GHG emission targets and supporting policy direction can help guide agencies and industry, inform decision making and goal setting and create forward momentum.

Many participants saw net zero by 2050 as inevitable and expressed that this target should be integrated into the energy planning process. Participants shared views that whole economy targets could constrain overall economic activity, but sector specific outcomes are still needed as they help to build accountability and provide guidance for technical planning.

Many participants believed that once the “bigger picture” and longer-term outlook for the transition was generally agreed upon, agencies and the private sector could make or clarify their business plans to operationalize the targets. Given the economy wide impacts of climate change, it was suggested that cross sector governance, manifesting in a central organizing document, could help to instill accountability and simplify tracking in the pursuit of net zero policies. Further, there was agreement that sector specific goals can drive incentives and encourage the private sector to reach targets. Participants stressed that businesses like to know how, where and when to invest based on a target and conduct their own planning accordingly.

Figure 7: Participants' level of agreement regarding the need for whole economy GHG emissions reduction targets
Whole economyNumber of responses%
Strongly Disagree00.0%
Strongly Agree1850.0%

Figure 7: Governance and accountability roundtable participants were asked “[Whether GHG emissions targets] have a role to play in long-term energy planning.” More specifically, participants were asked to rank the extent to which they agree or disagree whole economy GHG targets have a role to play in planning. Poll respondents could only choose one option. Results were shared back to the group, to stimulate dialogue. Of the 36 poll respondents across the governance and accountability roundtables, the majority thought there should be whole economy GHG targets.

Figure 8: Participant's level of agreement regarding the need for sector specific GHG emissions reduction targets
Sector specificNumber of responses%
Strongly Disagree00.0%
Strongly Agree1747.2%

Figure 8: Governance and accountability roundtable participants were asked “[Whether GHG emissions targets] have a role to play in long-term energy planning.” More specifically, participants were asked to rank the extent to which they agree or disagree sector specific GHG targets have a role to play in planning. Poll respondents could only choose one option. Results were shared back to the group, to stimulate dialogue. Of the 36 poll respondents across the governance and accountability roundtables, the majority thought there should be sector-specific economy GHG targets.

Some participants cautioned that it is the responsibility of the government to ensure that emitters outside of the electricity grid are included in target setting. Some participants said that targets must be outcome based and realistic, perhaps focusing on buildings, vehicles, the electricity grid and other key areas of focus. Roundtable participants were hopeful that clarity of targets, sooner rather than later, may reduce risk of stranded assets and create regulatory paths forward for new innovations.

To support the achievement of climate objectives, some one-on-on engagement participants noted that the OEB's mandate could be expanded to include GHG emission reduction or net zero objectives. It was suggested that this would enable the OEB to take a more holistic view of sector regulation when setting “just and reasonable rates.” Open call submissions also suggested adjusting the OEB's mandate to include specific references to reducing GHG emissions, arguing that this could “provide greater clarity and predictability” for the sector.

Some stakeholders cautioned against expanding the OEB's mandate to include emissions reductions, citing that the net-zero by 2050 goal is arbitrary or too aggressive, and that the government should avoid rushing to set targets without first developing a detailed, comprehensive strategy. In this regard, some written submissions suggested that climate change considerations (such as GHG emissions reduction targets) should be integrated into long-term energy planning and to use robust modeling/scenario analysis to help address uncertainties related to the energy system.

Participants also stressed the importance of alignment between provincial and federal targets, citing that targets are being established by both levels of government without clear indication of alignment and co-operation.

Performance metrics

Roundtable participants were generally of the opinion that “what gets measured gets done.” There was consensus that parameters for measuring success were critical alongside targets. Some suggested metrics included affordability, sustainability and reliability. Other metrics discussed during roundtables included energy productivity, demand side management, stranded asset risk, counter factual scenarios and levelized lifetime cost in lifecycle analysis.

Open call submission and roundtable participants stressed the importance of affordability, reliability and sustainability in assessing the phase-out of natural gas. Respondents also highlighted the importance of transparency and publicly reporting performance metrics. Stakeholders suggested that there should be a process to confirm whether performance metrics are reasonable and achievable, with some suggesting periodic review cycles and revisions occurring every few years to ensure continued alignment with the changing landscape of the energy transition.

Some open call respondents expressed interest in the establishment of DER targets with a clearly defined implementation process for incremental capacity in Ontario's supply mix.

A submission noted that while metrics can clearly be used to measure the progress of government and agencies, a lot of the energy transition will be driven by the private sector and private capital, whose performance will be difficult to measure. This is particularly the case given that factors such as time, costs, regulatory efficiency and certainty impact the extent to which investment is attracted to the province. Multiple participants across engagements shared the idea that energy costs and/or incentives can be more competitive elsewhere, causing industry to leave or avoid entering Ontario. This line of thinking affirms the importance of the energy transition to Ontario's economy and its competitiveness compared to other economies.

Comparable jurisdictions

Participants generally agreed that governance approaches should consider best practices and lessons learned from comparable jurisdictions. These best practices include the importance of coordination, collaboration, and alignment between various stakeholders.

Open call respondents pointed to various jurisdictions related to their mandates and approach to climate target commitments. Jurisdictions that were mentioned to have passed legislation mandating climate change considerations in regulatory decisions included: Maryland, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Washington, Hawaii and Washington D.C.

Open call respondents also pointed to jurisdictions such as New York, California, Michigan, Vermont and Quebec for policies and programs to approach a clean energy economy. Models from Australia, Minnesota and Sweden were mentioned as examples of jurisdictions that coordinated responses to energy system changes and achieving government targets.

One open-call submission cited British Columbia's legal recognition of Indigenous rights through a policy framework that prioritizes Indigenous involvement and leadership in the province's renewable energy economy and suggests that Ontario follows suit.

Some stakeholders pointed to European jurisdictions (such as Germany) utilizing the DSO model and suggest that LDC equivalents in said jurisdictions are not as heavily regulated, allowing them to integrate renewable energy and grid modernization.

Role for stakeholders and Indigenous partners

The importance of having stakeholders at the table to determine what metrics are relevant was discussed. Overall, participants felt that metrics should be less prescriptive and more flexible – an “open” rather than “closed” list – to account for changes in future needs. A variety of participants stated that it is important to become more educated on the role of Indigenous community metrics and the role they can play in this process. One participant raised the need to embrace systemic thinking from an Indigenous perspective.

Theme four: Established and emerging technologies

Throughout the engagements, the Panel considered opportunities to improve frameworks, regulatory or otherwise, and address barriers to enable core energy technologies and fuel types in energy and other sectors such as buildings/housing and transportation. The Panel also explored topics such as how to address barriers to low-carbon fuels, distributed energy resources and hybrid-heating solutions.

Technology and sector specific feedback

Participants across all streams of engagements gave a variety of suggestions for maximizing value and cost efficiency. Participants suggested that the complete carbon footprint, including the full life cycle and supply chain, in addition to cost-effectiveness of technologies, should be evaluated when making decisions about deployment. This can be done with the help of technology roadmaps to find synergies and efficiencies between technologies and to control ongoing costs in development and after deployment . Submissions stressed that frameworks for the deployment of emerging technology are critical for building investor confidence and technology adoption costs should be reduced.

Local distribution companies (LDCs)

Participants acknowledged that transformation at the energy distribution utility level is critical to enable the transition (electricity and natural gas) given that utilities have direct relationships with most energy consumers. This included suggestions for the OEB to consider more innovative approaches to cost recovery to enable LDCs to make just and reasonable investments. Another frequent suggestion was that a distribution system operator (DSO) model could help to enable LDCs to remove connection barriers, enable the lowest connection costs and optimize the ability of DERs and non-wires alternatives (NWAs) to participate in existing and future energy markets, thereby supporting electrification and energy transition objectives while maintaining reliability and safety of distribution networks and avoiding unnecessary costs.

In addition, virtual net metering is one technology that was repeatedly raised throughout the roundtables and submissions as participants believed that it could enable the effective contribution of renewables and distributed energy resources.

Homes and buildings

Participants across all streams of engagement shared their view that electrification of homes must be coupled with a reduction in energy demand to prevent overloading the grid. This requires finding pathways to make energy-efficient technologies affordable and accessible to the entire market. Participants saw a need to improve the effectiveness of such programs and allocate marketing budgets to engage with communities that can benefit the most. Retrofits, particularly deep energy retrofits using innovative methods like prefabricated panels, were deemed essential by roundtable participants for reducing energy demand and improving the efficiency of buildings. In addition, participants saw a need for intervention to bridge the gap between developers and builders to ensure that energy-efficient technologies are integrated from the beginning of construction. Multiple participants noted that full electrification of building heat in the near term will be extremely costly, and that gas backup is a good approach. Incremental change in buildings and homes – to install technologies such as hybrid heating, heat pumps and electric appliances – would be best integrated with backing from municipal bylaws and financial incentives. A credible net metering model was also seen as crucial to roundtable participants to ensure fair compensation for energy contributions and charges for consumption.


Participants across all streams of engagement saw hydrogen as a viable opportunity for the province, given Ontario's extensive natural gas infrastructure that could be converted to use hydrogen over time. Participants also noted the potential to generate hydrogen from off-peak electricity or unused hydroelectric power. However, in the roundtables, there was disagreement on whether hydrogen should be utilized as a potential storage medium or a “fuel type” and the cost-competitiveness of hydrogen was not universally agreed upon. Some participants suggested that Canada and Ontario need to work together to de-risk low-carbon technologies, including creating a strong domestic supply of hydrogen in the province. While hydrogen as a fuel is not new to the industry there is also need for further education programs to ensure public support and social acceptance of Ontario's Low-Carbon Hydrogen Strategy, and to better understand how hydrogen can be used to support grid decarbonization.

Transmission infrastructure

A common theme across engagements and submissions was that upgrading transmission lines in key areas is important to support the energy transition by spreading the benefits of new technologies around the province and potentially adjacent regions. Transmission enables the interconnection of markets allowing for reduced costs and increased reliability; it can connect different regions allowing for flatter load curves, provide energy access leading to social benefits, and allows more renewable connections. Grid limitations, infrastructure constraints, supply chain challenges, and availability of transmission lines need to be addressed.

Electric vehicles

There was some agreement that the electrification of transportation requires a comprehensive approach, with consideration of solutions such as vehicle-to-grid, charging networks, and electrification of certain vehicle fleets. Government and regulators can support EV adoption by creating policies that eliminate or mitigate barriers to EV charging such as designing EV-specific delivery cost rates, harmonizing codes across jurisdictions, and encouraging interoperability to facilitate seamless adoption across all charging solutions. Challenges remain for long-haul trucking due to current battery limitations. Some participants suggested empowering utilities to make investments in the distribution system in advance of having firm customers in place to ensure the distribution system can keep pace with demand for electric trucking. It was suggested that utilities could better support EV charger adoption by streamlining their connection process and shortening timelines for installations. Logistics for electrification of medium- and heavy-duty electric vehicles was another area where more work is needed.

While out of scope for the Panel, numerous participants and submissions indicated a need for skilled labour in deploying emerging technologies, and government support for training programs can help address this labour shortage. It was noted that many municipalities have few residents, and fewer engineers. This makes planning, financing and implementing decarbonization projects very difficult.

Expanding nuclear energy

Numerous participants and submissions shared the view that Ontario's nuclear fleet should be expanded and continuously modernized. Participants saw a “Made-in-Ontario” advantage for nuclear energy, particularly with OPG positioning itself as a global leader in small modular reactor (SMR) deployment, and that this should be fully leveraged. Participants highlighted the opportunity of a long-term nuclear build program that maintains a steady nuclear supply chain, including skilled trades and professionals, while pursuing nuclear technologies that provide the lowest cost and risk.

District energy

One-on-one engagement participants highlighted the potential value of expanding the use of district energy systems utilizing established and emerging technologies, including deep lake cooling, industrial heat waste recovery, geo-exchange and district heat pumps, among others. It was suggested that such systems and technologies presented significant opportunities to enhance energy efficiency, reduce total energy demand and mitigate carbon emissions in all communities, particularly in rapidly densifying downtown cores. Participants noted that early-stage engagement on community and infrastructure planning, clear, long-term targets for energy efficiency objectives and engagement with diverse stakeholders would help maximize the potential of district energy solutions.

Social, Indigenous, and community acceptance

To ensure social, Indigenous and community involvement, some participants stressed that consideration should also be given to co-benefits of decarbonization, such as addressing health concerns and social issues. Approaches to gaining public involvement should respect community diversity and pluralism. Participants indicated that different communities may require tailored strategies and communication styles. Some participants flagged the risk of misinformation and suggested that government work with industry associations to build trust and credibility through public education about the benefits and risk of new technologies.

Participants across engagement streams stressed the importance of a multi-pronged approach to improve Indigenous engagement and community involvement. Participants noted that involving Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities in decision-making and building long-term partnerships with communities would be necessary to improve Indigenous engagement and community involvement in energy planning and project development throughout the energy transition. As previously noted, affordability is a critical factor for public acceptance of new technologies. Special attention should be given to Indigenous, northern and remote communities to avoid leaving them behind in the transition. Participants also recommended targeted investments in the north for appropriate technologies.

Regulatory and policy framework improvements

Overall, participants shared the belief that government plays a unique role in ensuring a reliable, affordable and secure energy supply. Government should facilitate and develop policies but not control market operations. This makes collaboration and coordination between different levels of government necessary for an effective energy transition. Regulatory frameworks should be flexible, streamlined and consistent to accommodate new technologies and market innovations.

Numerous participants across all streams of engagement recommended that industrial policy and competition or antitrust policies should be considered to support emerging technologies. Government funding, incentives, and subsidies can accelerate the adoption of new technologies. Providing financial support for renewable energy projects, EV charging networks, and energy efficiency programs is essential. Ensuring a level playing field for all technologies while considering social responsibility standards are important. An aspect of this is ensuring harmonized standards for infrastructure to encourage the widespread adoption of emerging technologies, such as EV charging networks. Many participants suggested that a technology-agnostic approach is beneficial, with the focus on achieving the electrification and energy transition goals rather than “picking winners.”

A recurring theme of the discussions and submissions was that bold government actions and risk-taking are required to advance in the right direction and mitigate climate change risks. Carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) was repeatedly mentioned in the open call submissions. Submissions suggested a streamlined permitting regime for approving CCUS which would encourage commercial scale projects.

Market entry and participation of new technologies: timing, benefits and challenges

Participants across all streams of engagement saw opportunities and challenges for market entry of emerging and established technologies. It was commonly stated that the adoption of new technologies is constrained by outdated regulatory codes and policies that need to be updated. Early adopters face challenges due to regulatory barriers, which hinders the integration of new technology into existing systems. Also, stakeholders noted that transparent access to data and information on the success of technologies aids in decision-making and encourages adoption. Consumer choice was emphasized in the written submissions as an opportunity to provide options to support the energy transition.

Some participants shared the view that governments need to take the “long view” on technologies and the energy transition, as these technologies are expensive in terms of money and time. There was general agreement that government should not select technologies but let the market determine success. In addition, open call submissions suggested that no regrets projects should be expedited.

Participants shared the belief that for long-term planning for energy technologies, linear assumptions about technology improvements should be avoided. Participants anticipate that technology trajectory curves will likely bend much faster given our environment, so “the change in the next 30 years is not going to be like the change in the last 30 years.” Concerns exist about large-scale lock-in with certain technologies, which could lead to stranded assets and risks for stakeholders.

Theme five: Community and customer perspectives, affordability and energy sector objectives

Community and customer perspectives play a pivotal role in shaping the energy transition. Throughout the engagements, the Panel explored opportunities to balance energy system costs, energy reliability and climate objectives while considering the needs and interests of Indigenous communities, rights-holders and the general public.

Considerations for affordability

Many participants noted that affordability of the energy system will be one of the most important priorities for consumers through the transition; however, they shared different opinions on how to attain these objectives. Overall, roundtable participants agreed that the transition will place pressure on affordability that needs to be addressed. Ontarians would not give a “blank cheque” to finance the energy transition – they would want clear information about energy costs and other public priorities, such as healthcare.

Climate change and electrification may reduce the lifespan of some assets and require them to be replaced more quickly, placing additional pressures on affordability. Some participants noted that the lowest price is not always the best option, and that there may need to be a “balanced scorecard” or priorities, such as reliability, safety, Indigenous participation and environmental impacts. It was also noted by multiple open call submissions that affordability might differ based on regional and other characteristics – energy costs are higher for those who live in remote communities or those who have chronic illnesses that lead to higher energy needs.

There was a debate in one roundtable about willingness-to-pay. Some participants suggested that the government should conduct a customer survey, across the province, to see how much more customers are willing to pay to support the transition. Other participants noted that perspectives of non-respondents might not be accounted for in such surveys and for this reason surveys can be misleading, and that it is too early in the energy transition to poll Ontarians on energy costs.

Overall, participants agreed that in many cases consumers cannot make energy-related assessments on their own, which is why they rely on governments and agencies to make informed decisions on their behalf. Examples of government decisions may include rate-smoothing approaches for big investments, different rate structures that influence demand patterns or provide more customer choice, conservation and demand management and supply options that consider the unique circumstances of remote communities (e.g., better integrated of heat and power needs).

Additionally, multiple open call submissions noted that the energy transition, including investments in new energy infrastructure should be increasingly funded from the tax-base to maintain long-term energy equity, particularly for communities experiencing energy poverty or high electricity distribution costs related to electrification and the energy transition. Some participants noted that transitioning costs to the tax base could result in unintended consequences in the form of reduced cost transparency and a weakened business case for the implementation of demand side energy efficiency programs for industrial and residential consumers. Overall, there was agreement on the critical role of government in helping vulnerable and marginalized communities to be part of the energy transition.

It was also noted that proper pacing of the transition would be important to keep costs low for residential and commercial consumers, as well as industrial consumers which could become uncompetitive if the transition moves too quickly resulting in large increases in costs or moves too slowly resulting in companies locating to jurisdictions that are transitioning more quickly.

Customer choice

Multiple one-on-one engagement participants noted that Ontario should decarbonize in a cost-effective manner that meets customer choice, reliability and affordability objectives. Decisions should not limit low-carbon and renewable fuel options as tools to achieve energy affordability, accessibility and to maintain customer choice.

Some areas where it was noted that consumers should have choice include:

  • The ability for residential and small business consumers to offset emissions from their energy use.
  • Ability to use lower-emissions fuels, where natural gas is not available to support reliability.

Options for local generation and storage including use of renewables, distributed energy resources and district energy systems to support reliability. This includes updates to the net metering regulation to allow for more effective sharing of excess power back through the grid.

Further, there was agreement that all customers will need to understand the energy transition, including costs and savings opportunities available to them, so that they can make informed choices. Policy strategies should ensure all customers can participate in and benefit from transitioning regardless of their circumstances.

Options to support a cost-effective energy transition

Multiple participants made comments on financing the transition, namely regarding the need for financing for affordability measures for residential, commercial and industrial customers. A participant shared that Ontario could learn from other jurisdictions (like Australia, the European Union and the U.S.A.) where energy affordability services have emerged. This includes cooperatives that help individual households to afford energy efficient equipment. Some participants said that there needs to be new programs specific to renters, in addition to homeowners, for energy efficiency upgrades so that landlords do not simply pass on costs for upgrades onto renters. Participants flagged that uptake for IESO retrofit programs were low in Indigenous communities compared to municipal programs and suggested the need for partnership between provincial and federal government on this matter as it is less likely that there is a locally owned utility on-Reserve that can assist with programming.

As discussed in more detail in the ‘Focused Feedback on Indigenous Energy Matters' section, enabling access to financing can help lower costs for Indigenous equity partnerships. More broadly, open call innovative funding mechanisms could help accelerate the energy transition while minimizing the impact of the transition on taxpayers and customers. These include mechanisms that facilitate the mobilization of financial resources for renewable energy projects, energy efficiency initiatives and community-led energy programs.

Participants disagreed about which market structure for the procurement of electricity resources would lead to the most affordability for customers. Some participants saw virtue in allowing municipalities to procure renewable energy as they see fit with DERs, while others suggested a single buyer (e.g., the IESO) would create the most advantageous price position – especially for balancing local, regional and provincial needs at the same time. A participant pointed out that investing in demand reduction could make energy more affordable while creating a new set of economic development opportunities. Participants did agree that municipalities are closer to the needs in their communities and should at least be given some ability and resources to address their own energy-related pain points.

Indigenous and local community engagement, transparency and social license

Roundtable participants stressed the importance of Indigenous and local community engagement, transparent communications and social license to enable an effective transition.

Indigenous consultation and engagement

Working with diverse Indigenous partners is integral to supporting more holistic and integrative approaches, and to meaningfully include Indigenous perspectives throughout project development, planning and decision making. To do this, participants largely agreed that long-term funding is important to build and maintain capacity, especially considering the length of time it takes to build relationships. Participants noted that as energy projects and the energy transition advance, more engagement and consultation with Indigenous partners will be required. Participants noted that engagement and consultation will progress more effectively and expediently where there has been an investment in relationship and capacity building with Indigenous communities. This should be seen as a key aspect of reconciliation that improves energy democracy and supports the rapid pace of transition and electrification.

Equity participation and capacity building of Indigenous partners was a theme that came up frequently across all roundtable and one-on-one engagements. A participant clarified that equity participation should not only be available to Indigenous communities, but to any community affected by a project. This was noted partly because project ownership and funding are perceived to buy attention, improve the community's energy literacy, and increase participation in decarbonization initiatives. To make this a reality, a participant proposed that such actions should be a prerequisite of a proponent receiving a community's support.

Engagement and education

Many engagement participants' open call submissions noted key principles that are needed to bring consumers and citizens along through the energy transition. These principles include:

  • Transparent communication and public education about the true costs of energy and opportunities and challenges related to electrification (including safety considerations for emerging technologies, and education regarding cleaner appliance alternatives).
  • Customer participation is necessary to create a sense of responsibility and ownership over the success of the energy transition and allow for choices that reflects consumer needs.
  • Consistent, meaningful, and accessible engagement is important from the beginning of any energy planning process; whereby accessible engagement processes consider access to reliable internet and distance as part of any virtual and/or in-person engagement process.
  • Community-level engagement and empowerment to make environmental and culturally appropriate community energy planning decisions.
  • Expert evidence regarding the direct and indirect costs and risks of climate change and climate change adaptation (including inaction) should be considered as part of energy planning, including at the local level.

On the topic of energy literacy, participants shared interest in building more widespread energy literacy amongst stakeholders and the incremental nature of this task. They said that efforts should focus on community leaders, key messages for future energy planning and providing accessible public resources for customers to access to do their own research. These resources should be as “jargon-free” as possible. Multiple participants shared the insight that demonstrating new or better processes to citizens helps to ensure buy-in, for example, demonstrations and tours that show how projects work can be useful. Overall, better engagement needs to accommodate transparent and inclusive communications for different information and relationship needs.

Project-specific engagement

When engaging on projects, roundtable participants were clear that both time and care must go into the process. This would involve providing ample time for communities to prepare and provide their input, as they may also be involved in other engagements or consultations. As a baseline, participants suggested that accurate information on all potential options, including costs, should be provided on any project. The intent for engagements should be made clear and engagements should foster trust through a flexible pacing and reasonable location of meetings – especially for Indigenous and remote communities.

Roundtable participants acknowledged that the paradigm shift of distributed energy resources and two-way flow is already a significant mindsight change for planners and, equally so, for customers. This insight led to a discussion about the potential need for more education and relationship building to increase capacity for new types of network projects and garner more customer choice.

Achieving environmental and climate objectives

Overall, roundtable participants felt that the province must do a better job of visioning and communicating environmental and climate objectives. Participants agreed that there is not currently a vision or journey for the energy transition that communities can look to for guidance or understanding. Further, numerous participants saw the goal, vision, and journey for Ontario as being to achieve net zero by 2050.

Consumer perspectives on reliability, resiliency, and adaptation

Considerations for reliability and resiliency

Roundtable participants shared their views of consumer perspectives on reliability, resiliency and adaptation. Grid resilience is very important to communities and customers. Customers are most anxious and frustrated when faced with severe longer-term outages. More energy alternatives in case of an outage were noted as being required, especially during the winter. Some one-on-one engagement participants raised that reliability is an especially large concern in rural and remote areas as those areas tend to be dependent on a single transmission line. They also noted that reliance on electric heat increases customer sensitivity to outages, in both rural and urban settings, and that electrification of transportation will only compound this sensitivity.

There were comments on the advantages of heat pumps, in particular, from both climate and energy efficiency perspectives; however, various participants argued that heat pumps may not be viable in all areas of the province. Participants noted that back-up power, especially for heating, must be guaranteed, especially in remote communities given the potential for outages. Some participants clarified that for some communities this may mean that propane or diesel power should be accepted as back-up for the foreseeable future to ensure a steady supply of power.

Some open call submissions noted that it might be helpful for communities to establish sustainable community visions that reflect environmental performance, local energy and economic opportunities, and cultural values or priorities. Such a vision, established by or with the community (with assistance on technical options), could lead to longer-term changes to housing types or densities that are more economic and sustainable, yet respectful of community values and priorities.

Some one-on-one engagement participants suggested that the OEB could provide greater certainty and accountability to regulated entities in terms of necessary investments in climate change mitigation and adaptation.

In addition to back up power for heat, some participants felt that DERs provide opportunities to pursue improved resiliency. Engagement participants and open call submissions noted that DERs have the potential to help consumers meet their own energy needs and contribute to the grid and added that barriers to DER implementation within communities and at the local level must be reduced. Further, these participants felt that LDCs should encourage DER implementation in local areas to improve the resiliency of local grids and reduce the amount of energy imported by transmission lines. A participant noted that DERs can create opportunities for “wins” for consumers, and that demonstration projects can be helpful in achieving community buy-in and building relationships. The resiliency benefits for natural gas were also mentioned, given that natural gas pipes are located underground and may be able to better withstand certain types of weather events.

Government roles to support an affordable energy transition

Informed program development

Participants felt that government should do thorough research and engagement to ensure that programs and funds are designed with an accurate understanding of industry processes and realistic timelines for approvals. Participants felt that incentives available for new projects could be communicated more clearly. Participants suggested that without this understanding proponents may be reluctant to apply for government programs. It was also noted that there is room for improvement by the province and the federal government in the provision of funding to support residential customers with the upfront capital costs associated with taking action to decarbonize. Some suggestions for incentives included those for fuel switching to heat pumps, competitive EV pricing, low-carbon, energy efficiency upgrades and rooftop solar installations.

Support for community level energy planning was also called for by participants. Participants acknowledged that a one-size-fits all approach for regulations would be problematic as each community has different needs. Interestingly, one open call submission suggested that Ontario consider aligning its Emission Performance Standard program with the range of compliance options enabled under Alberta's Technology Innovation and Emissions Reduction (TIER) regulation. The TIER regulation enables regulated facilities to meet their compliance obligations using emission performance credits or emission offset credits. Emission performance credits represent unused emission allowance from previous years. Emission offset credits are generated by projects which have voluntarily reduced emissions, meet TIER regulation requirements, and are listed on the Alberta Emission Offset Registry.

Theme six: Facilitating economic growth

The Panel explored opportunities to advance Ontario's participation in green global supply chains and facilitating cross-sector collaboration in energy-intensive sectors through the engagements.

Opportunities and tools to support economic and sustainable development in the energy sector

Participants across all streams of engagement shared various ideas about opportunities and tools to support economic and sustainable development in the energy sector. Many agreed that the difficult balance between sustainability, reliability, and affordability (otherwise known as the ‘energy trilemma') is a useful way to conceptualize the challenge at hand. Like feedback from other roundtable topics, participants indicated that a whole-of-government approach is required along with clarity of priorities to create regulatory certainty for industry. Participants stressed that Ontario should not take for granted its clean energy advantage as other neighbouring jurisdictions invest in decarbonizing their electricity system. Sending a positive message to investors and expanding the Made-in-Ontario supply of clean electricity was identified as essential to unlocking future growth: good jobs, energy security, high-quality investment.

Participants stressed flexible approaches amid the uncertainty of the energy transition. They also suggested that plans be multi-step operations that are measured, paced and predictable and leverage near-, mid- and long- term opportunities. Some participants noted prioritizing long lead time assets in this context.

Some participants noted that a clean electricity supply is necessary for industries to be competitive amid new environmental, social and governance (ESG) measures – especially for leading edge green companies. Participants from heavy industry specifically noted that ESG – alongside affordability and reliability – will be critical for retaining industry.

Participants shared a variety of examples of tools for economic development, such as the importance of building forums and tables to bring actors together, specifically regional tables. There was suggestion that Ontario should build on its history of community energy plans with legislation and government direction to build community energy plans into regional planning. Participants also saw a need to ensure there is an even playing field for new, innovative, and cost-effective actors to enter Ontario markets, specifically for transmission.

Participants across all engagement streams identified the multiple emerging economic opportunities related to the energy sector; some of those opportunities include:

  • Expanding the clean energy grid via nuclear and hydro sectors, DER and battery manufacturing, which is attractive for industrial investment.
  • Supporting LDC's capability to facilitate local economic development.
  • Moving rapidly to build out wind and solar industries/supply chains, create conditions for economies-of-scale, and reduce reliance on imports given Ontario's expertise in wind and solar and cost competitiveness of the technologies.
  • Harnessing mineral opportunities in the north and northwest by developing a robust electricity supply to the region through connections to the bulk grid and development of renewables.
  • Producing biofuels and renewable fuels to meet domestic requirements, and to reduce fuel security and employment risks, given that some long-term contracts for Canadian agricultural and forestry feedstock to supply U.S. biofuels producers are being executed. Near term reliance on natural gas may reduce volatility.
  • Demonstrating/deploying technologies to help activate capital and develop opportunities, for example, through the establishment of hydrogen hubs in regions such as Sarnia-Lambton, Hamilton, Durham Region, etc.

Financing and funding tools to support companies through the energy transition

Participants suggested that certainty in the energy transition is critical, especially regulatory certainty, and should be created by government. Policy reversal was raised as a threat to the energy transition and participants stressed the need to reduce this risk. Participants shared that there seem to be more decarbonization incentives for producers rather than the demand side, and that this should be more balanced.

Regarding energy efficiency and conservation, participants suggested that the government needs to create an environment where industries can invest in upgrading their equipment to more energy efficient processes, not only to reduce energy consumption but also to secure continued operation of the facilities and associated jobs for the long-term. This environment needs to include changes to the tax regime, depreciation treatment, capital cost allowances, and the recommendation that these changes should be enshrined to provide certainty.

Participants suggested that government needs to develop creative ways to provide loans, incentives or otherwise reduce the burden of the transition for private companies, but there was disagreement about whether Ontario should be focused on investing in organizations that are already present in the province or attracting new ones. Some participants felt that smaller, frequent pilot projects could improve investor confidence. Regarding labour (which is out of scope for the Panel) multiple participants stressed that the lack of skilled trades for the transition could lead to issues. They stressed that there are a finite number of workers which the entire energy transition industry is competing to acquire; this pool needs to be expanded.

Furthermore, some participants suggested the need for mechanisms to support industry growth like the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). Some participants recommended Ontario explore tax programs like the U.S. rather than different funding programs that may not be as competitive or automatic – tax incentives are applied when an entity meets the criteria and files taxes, whereas funding envelopes require in-year-out-year assessments and approvals from government or agencies. Overall, it was noted that trade exposed industries could be subject to significant shifts in available work if Ontario does not keep pace with other jurisdictions in incentivizing economic development.

Government-led collaboration and coordination (federal, provincial, municipal and agencies)

Participants across all engagement streams identified that regulatory permitting issues create uncertainty for business investment. They felt there is a need for greater harmonization between federal and provincial rules to avoid duplication and lengthy processes, particularly for projects with long lead times. Participants shared that because there are many actors in the Ontario system, it is challenging for consumers to navigate when really, they want “one stop shopping.”

There was disagreement among participants regarding the degree to which authority should be passed to community or local levels. Some participants shared that it is important that decision making be dispersed to a lower level because they understand their local issues and how to address them. Some participants advised that a balance between different levels of governments is especially necessary for balancing the build out of DERs to ensure stability of the centralized grid and avoid stranded assets while building optionality.

Appendix A: List of contributing organizations and individuals


Below is the list of stakeholders and partners that the Panel has engaged with from March to July 2023.

Stream one: One-on-one and group-style stakeholder engagement participants

  1. Advanced Energy Management Alliance (AEMA)
  2. Alectra Utilities
  3. Association of Major Power Consumers in Ontario (AMPCO)
  4. Association of Power Producers of Ontario (APPrO)
  5. Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA)
  6. Attawapiskat Power Corporation
  7. Bruce Power Ltd.
  8. Canadian Fuels Association
  9. Canadian Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association (CHFCA)
  10. Canadian Nuclear Association (CNA)
  11. Canadian Propane Association (CPA)
  12. Centre Wellington Hydro
  13. ChargePoint
  14. City of Hamilton
  15. City of Mississauga
  16. City of North Bay
  17. Concentric Energy Advisors
  18. Electricity Distributors Association (EDA)
  19. Elexicon Energy Inc.
  20. Enbridge Gas Inc.
  21. Enova Power
  22. Essex Powerlines Corporation
  23. Former Under Secretary, Energy & Climate Solutions for Massachusetts (Judy Chang)
  24. Energy Storage Canada
  25. Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC)
  26. Fort Albany Power Corporation
  27. Fort Frances Power Corporation
  28. Fortis Inc.
  29. Halton Hills Hydro Inc.
  30. Hydro One
  31. Hydro One Remotes
  32. Hydrogen Business Council
  33. Imperial Oil
  34. Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO)
  35. Industrial Gas Users Association (IGUA)
  36. Infrastructure Canada
  37. Innovative Research Group (Greg Lyle)
  38. Kashechewan Power Corporation
  39. Lakeland Power Distribution Ltd.
  40. MaRS
  41. Municipality of Kincardine
  42. Municipality of Middlesex Centre
  43. Natural Resources Canada (NRCan)
  44. Newmarket-Tay Power Distribution Ltd.
  45. Niagara-on-the-Lake (NOTL) Hydro
  46. North Bay Hydro Distribution Ltd.
  47. Oakville Hydro Electricity Distribution Inc.
  48. Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC)
  49. Ontario Energy Association (OEA)
  50. Ontario Energy Board (OEB)
  51. Ontario Power Generation (OPG)
  52. Privy Council Office (PCO)
  53. Region of Waterloo
  54. Renewable Industries Canada (RICanada)
  55. Synergy North Corporation
  56. Toronto Hydro
  57. Town of Tecumseh
  58. Township of O’Connor

Stream two: One-on-one and group-style Indigenous engagement participants

  1. Anishinabek Nation
  2. Conservation on the Coast
  3. First Nations Major Projects Coalition (FNMPC)
  4. Five Nations Energy Inc.
  5. Grand Council Treaty #3
  6. Haudenosaunee Development Institute (HDI)
  7. Indigenous Clean Energy
  8. Maawandoon Inc.
  9. Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO)
  10. Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation (MCFN)
  11. Mohawk Council of Akwesasne
  12. Six Nations Elected Council
  13. Three Fires Group
  14. Wataynikaneyap Power

Stream three: Roundtable engagement participants

  1. Advanced Biofuels Canada
  2. Associated Canadian Car Rental Operators (ACCRO)
  3. Association of Major Power Consumers in Ontario (AMPCO)
  4. Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO)
  5. Association of Power Producers of Ontario (APPrO)
  6. Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL)
  7. Borden Ladner Gervais LLP (BLG)
  8. buildABILITY Corporation
  9. Buildings Ontario Transformation Hub
  10. Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA)
  11. Canada's Energy and Utility Regulators (CAMPUT)
  12. Canadian Association for the Club of Rome (CACOR)
  13. Canadian Biogas Association
  14. Canadian Climate Institute
  15. Canadian Home Builders’ Association (CHBA)
  16. Canadian Housing Evidence Collaborative (CHEC)
  17. Canadian Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association (CHFCA)
  18. Canadian Nuclear Association (CNA)
  19. Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC)
  20. Canadian Propane Association (CPA)
  21. Canadian Renewable Energy Association (CanREA)
  22. Canadian Steel Producers Association (CSPA)
  23. Canadian Urban Transit Research & Innovation Consortium (CUTRIC)
  24. Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers' Association (CVMA)
  25. Capital Power
  26. Chemistry Industry Association of Canada (CIAC)
  27. City of Toronto
  28. Clean Air Partnership
  29. Clean Energy Canada
  30. Climate Challenge Network
  31. Convergent Energy and Power
  32. Demand Renewables
  33. Distributed Energy Resources Stakeholder Initiative (DERSI)
  34. Dowler-Karn
  35. Earnscliffe Strategies
  36. Efficiency Canada
  37. Electrical Safety Authority (ESA)
  38. Electricity Canada
  39. Electricity Distributors Association (EDA)
  40. Electro-Federation Canada (EFC)
  41. Enbridge Gas Inc.
  42. Enel S.p.A.
  43. Energy Storage Canada
  44. Enerlife Consulting Inc.
  45. Environmental Defence
  46. Environmental Energy Institute
  47. Essex Powerlines Corporation
  48. Global Risk Institute (GRI)
  49. Google Nest
  50. Guidehouse
  51. HEC Montreal
  52. Housing Services Corporation
  53. Hydro One
  54. Hydrogen Business Council
  55. Grand Council Treaty #3
  56. Imperial Oil
  57. Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO)
  58. Indigenous Clean Energy
  59. Industrial Gas Users Association (IGUA)
  60. Innovative Research Group (Greg Lyle)
  61. Ivey Business School – Western University (Guy Holburn)
  62. Ivey Business School – Western University (Brandon Schaufele)
  63. Low Income Energy Network (LIEN)
  64. Manor Park Community Benefits Network
  65. Maawandoon Inc.
  66. Metrolinx
  67. Ministry of Energy (ENERGY)
  68. Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP)
  69. Natural Resources Canada (NRCan)
  70. NextEra Energy Canada
  71. Ontario Building Officials Association (OBOA)
  72. Ontario Clean Air Alliance
  73. Ontario Energy Association (OEA)
  74. Ontario Energy Board (OEB)
  75. Ontario Financing Authority (OFA)
  76. Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers (OGVG)
  77. Ontario Mining Association (OMA)
  78. Ontario Power Generation (OPG)
  79. Ontario Society of Professional Engineers (OPSE)
  80. Ontario Tech University (Daniel Hoornweg)
  81. Ontario Tech University (Jacquie Hoornweg)
  82. Ontario Waterpower Association (OWA)
  83. Organization of Canadian Nuclear Industries (OCNI)
  84. Ottawa Renewable Energy Co-operative (OREC)
  85. Oxford Community Energy Cooperative
  86. Peak Power Inc.
  87. Pembina Institute
  88. Pollution Probe
  89. Powerconsumer Inc.
  90. Prowind Inc.
  91. Public Interest Advocacy Centre
  92. PwC
  93. Queen’s University (Mark Daymond)
  94. QUEST Canada
  95. Renewable Industries Canada (RICanada)
  96. Schneider Electric Canada Inc.
  97. Shell Canada Ltd.
  98. Siemens Canada Ltd.
  99. Sub-metering Council of Ontario (SCO)
  100. Suncor Energy
  101. Sussex Strategy Group
  102. TC Energy Corporation
  103. The Atmospheric Fund (TAF)
  104. The Truck Renting and Leasing Association of America (TRALA)
  105. Three Fires Group
  106. Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU) (Bala Venkatesh)
  107. Toronto Transit Commission (TTC)
  108. Town of Caledon
  109. The Transition Accelerator
  110. Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA)
  111. University of Waterloo (Claudio Canizares)
  112. University of Waterloo (Jatin Nathwani)
  113. University of Waterloo (Jessie Ma)
  114. Voltus, Inc.
  115. Workbench Energy
  116. York University (Mark Winfield)
  117. Zero Emission Bus (ZEB)Committee – (OPTA-ZEB)

Stream four: Open call for written submissions respondents

  1. Advanced Energy Management Alliance (AEMA)
  2. Agrivoltaics Canada
  3. Alectra Utilities
  4. Association of Major Power Consumers in Ontario (AMPCO)
  5. Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO)
  6. Association of Power Producers of Ontario (APPrO)
  7. Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL)
  8. Boltzmann Institute + John Stephenson (Director)
  9. Bruce Power Ltd.
  10. Bunli Yang - General Public
  11. Canadian Association for the Club of Rome (CACOR)
  12. Canadian Biogas Association
  13. Canadians for Nuclear Energy
  14. Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME)
  15. Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC)
  16. Canadian Propane Association (CPA)
  17. Canadian Renewable Energy Association (CanREA)
  18. Canadian Urban Transit Research & Innovation Consortium (CUTRIC)
  19. Capital Power
  20. Chemistry Industry Association of Canada (CIAC)
  21. Clean Air Council and Clean Air Partnership
  22. Coalition of Concerned Manufacturers and Businesses of Canada (CCMBC)
  23. Cornerstone Hydro Electric Concepts Group (CHEC)
  24. Electrical Safety Authority (ESA)
  25. Electricity Distributors Association
  26. Electricity Human Resources Canada
  27. Electro Federation Canada (EFC)
  28. Elexicon Energy Inc.
  29. Enbridge Gas Inc.
  30. Enercare Inc.
  31. Energy Probe
  32. Enerlife Consulting Inc
  33. Enwave Energy Corporation
  34. Essex Powerlines Corporation
  35. Evolugen by Brookfield Renewable
  36. Fortis Inc.
  37. Green Energy Coalition
  38. Green Ribbon Panel
  39. Grid United
  40. Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association of Canada
  41. Hydro One
  42. Industrial Gas Users Association (IGUA)
  43. Ivey Business School - Energy Policy and Management Centre
  44. Jule
  45. Laborers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA)
  46. Métis Nation of Ontario
  47. Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation (MCFN)
  48. NextEra Energy Canada
  49. Niagara-on-the-Lake (NOTL) Hydro
  50. Northland Power Inc.
  51. Oakville Hydro Electricity Distribution Inc.
  52. Ontario Energy Association (OEA)
  53. Ontario Energy Board (OEB)
  54. Ontario Home Builders' Association (OHBA)
  55. Ontario Mining Association (OMA)
  56. Ontario Power Generation (OPG)
  57. Ontario Society of Professional Engineers (OSPE)
  58. Ontario Stakeholder Council Working Group on Electrification and Buildings Ontario Transformation Hub
  59. Ontario Waterpower Association (OWA)
  60. Ontario's Nuclear Advantage
  61. Ottawa Renewable Energy Co-operative (OREC)
  62. Ottawa Wind Concerns
  63. Pembina Institute
  64. Pollution Probe
  65. QUEST Canada
  66. Region of Peel
  67. Richard Gilbert, former CEO Toronto District Heating Corporation, Chair of BoD for Boltzmann Institute
  68. Riverdale Ratepayers Association
  69. Russ Houldin - General Public
  70. S&C Electric Canada
  71. Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership
  72. Saugeen Ojibway Nation (SON)
  73. Shell Canada Ltd.
  74. Shepherd Rubenstein Professional Corporation | Regulatory Law
  75. Society of United Professionals
  76. SWTCH Energy Inc.
  77. TC Energy Corporation
  78. Tesla Inc.
  79. The Atmospheric Fund (TAF)
  80. Toronto Hydro
  81. Township of McMurrich/Monteith
  82. Umicore
  83. Voltus, Inc.
  84. Wind Concerns Ontario
  85. York University (Mark Winfield)

Appendix B: Discussion guide for roundtables and open call

The full list of discussion questions explored in the roundtable engagements, and posted online to help inform written submissions through the open call can be found here.