The federal government has provided little support for
Ontario's move towards green energy. Yet it provides direct and indirect
subsidies to Canada's oil and gas sectors worth $1.4 billion annually, in
addition to $2.0 billion in total spending for carbon capture and storage, the
Clean Energy Fund and the ecoEnergy Technology program - all of which are
primarily spent in two provinces. Even where the federal government has
promised support for clean energy, most has been directed to fossil fuels and
projects that do not build on Ontario's strengths. Ontario needs fair and
equitable support for its clean energy initiatives.
More should be done to keep infrastructure in good
condition. The equivalent of about half of the $72 billion of municipally owned
water and wastewater infrastructure needs renewal. Full-cost pricing would
encourage both stable investment - which is more efficient and fairer on an
intergenerational basis - and conservation.
The province should pursue a national transit strategy with
the federal government, other provinces and municipalities. General tax
revenues will surely be part of any revenue solution - whether federal or
provincial - but there are alternatives such as congestion charges,
comprehensive road tolls, high-occupancy/toll (HOT) lanes, regional gas taxes
and parking surcharges.
This program [Ontario Clean Energy Benefit] distorts the
true cost of electricity and discourages conservation… because the Commission
strongly believes the OCEB's $1.1 billion could be used more effectively, the
OCEB should be eliminated as quickly as possible.
The government should produce a detailed, 20-year blueprint
for the energy sector. It should also consolidate Ontario's 80 Local
Distribution Companies (LDCs) along regional lines to create economies of
scale; this would result in direct savings on the delivery portion of the
electricity bill. Further, the government should mitigate the impact of the FIT
program on electricity prices, first by reducing the initial prices offered in
FIT contracts and reducing the tariff over time, and second by making better
use of "off-ramps" built into existing contracts. Among other measures, the
government should seek administrative efficiencies in various electricity
sector agencies and restructure the wholesale electricity market so consumers
located closer to generation stations can benefit from lower electricity
Full cost recovery is not in effect for all of the
government's environmental programs, and existing fees do not keep pace with
the rising costs of program delivery; where possible, the costs of those
services should be shifted to the beneficiary. The Water Charges initiative
should be expanded beyond high users to medium- and low-consumption industries
and put on a full user-pay basis. The Renewable Energy Approval, which
consolidates the range of approvals needed for renewable energy projects while
recovering about 90 per cent of its direct operating costs, is a good example
of a modern approval. The Drive Clean program fully recovers its costs.
Any campus expansions funded by the province should be
viewed through a return-on investment lens. Factors such as the increase in
productivity for the institution through a better learning experience for
students, energy cost reductions through the use of renewable energy sources
and energy-efficient building design should be considered. Currently, the
principal driver for expansion may be increases in enrolment, and while energy
conservation aspects may be part of the building design, they are not integral
to the productivity outcomes expected from the expansion.
A refocused mandate for business support programs would
shift from an emphasis on job creation towards encouraging firms to enhance
productivity through innovation; technology adoption and training; improved
business practices; and energy conservation and efficiency.
Make regulated prices more reflective of wholesale prices by
increasing the on-peak to off-peak price ratio of time-of-use pricing and by
making critical peak pricing available on an opt-in basis.