On December 2, 2013, Minister Chiarelli released the Government of Ontario’s updated Long-Term Energy Plan (LTEP), following months of extensive consultation. The LTEP maps out a comprehensive approach to all elements of Ontario’s energy sector over the 2013 to 2032 time horizon, with intended updates being guided by a newly mandated Annual Ontario Energy Report. Planned “conservation first” features very prominently in the LTEP, with a demand response target of 10% peak load by 2025 and conservation intended to offset all load growth (30 TWh) by 2032.  Other key elements of the plan include:

Renewables. Ontario’s 10,700 MW target for non-hydro renewables will be extended to 2021 and the target for hydro has been expanded to 9300 MW by 2025. With the cancellation of the Feed-In-Tariff program for large, >500 kW projects (the small project FIT application window is now open until December 13, 2013), wind and solar developers sought predictability and have been provided with the following procurement schedule for the planned Large Renewables Request for Proposals (RFP). The LTEP indicates that the RFP selection criteria are likely to include weighting in favour of regional needs, aboriginal and municipal participation, as well as energy storage.

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Energy Storage and Innovation. The changing nature of the electricity sector and its increasing convergence with the information technology sector is evident in Ontario’s smart grid advances and the LTEP. The key role of energy storage to optimize all aspects of the system and better integrate renewables is evident, and the government will proceed with a 50 MW procurement of storage in 2014 and consider pumped hydro storage.

Nuclear. The LTEP sets the province’s staged plan for nuclear refurbishment of the Bruce and Darlington plants in the 2016 to 2032 time frame. The plan starts with the refurbishment of Darlington Unit 2 and Bruce Unit 4, and future refurbishments will be evaluated based on the efficiency and success of those projects. Pickering is intended to continue to be in service until 2020. Currently, nuclear makes up 59% of the power consumed in the province, and that is anticipated to drop to 42% by 2025.

Transmission. Hydro One and Infrastructure Ontario will proceed with the Northwest Bulk transmission line in the area west of Thunder Bay, and the province will make the connection of remote northwestern First Nations communities a priority. The designated East-West Tie will continue to proceed through the Ontario Energy Board.

Clean Imports (and Exports). The province will look to optimize its 4500 to 5200 MW of import and export capacity for clean energy with the provinces of Quebec and Manitoba.

Natural Gas Generation and Combined Heat and Power. The province is negotiating certain gas-fired generation procurement contracts with existing non-utility generators and will continue to do so. It will also consider ongoing procurement of combined heat and power projects. Natural gas-fired generation is anticipated to remain steady at approximately 25% of the province’s electricity supply mix.

Role of OPG and Hydro One. OPG and Hydro One have been authorized to explore new opportunities and business lines in and out of Ontario in order to facilitate rate mitigation.

Oil and Gas Infrastructure. The province is applying a principled approach to pipeline infrastructure development, including its public consultation and consideration of the Ontario portion of the Energy East Project. The LTEP encourages natural gas connections to remote First Nations communities.

Customer Measures. The plan includes a number of measures for customers to participate in and mitigate rates including: On-bill financing of energy efficient equipment, the Green Button program with home energy-related “apps” and enhanced local utility conservation and demand management measures.

Emissions. The emissions impact of the government’s energy initiatives and early coal phase-out is nothing short of dramatic. Annual mercury emissions from the sector will be virtually eliminated (from a high of 350 kg in 2006). Similarly NOx, SO2 and particulate matter from the sector will be virtually eliminated or negligible. Finally, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the sector will be reduced by 75% to 85%, making Ontario one of the lowest carbon electricity grids in the world.