Energy Efficiency Should be Top Priority

Energy efficiency and conservation are critical to maintaining economic prosperity and saving Ontarians money in the face of rising energy prices.

For this reason, the Green Party of Ontario believes that developing a comprehensive energy efficiency and conservation plan for Ontario should be a top priority. This is part of our responsibility to leave a positive financial and environmental legacy for our children.

Unfortunately, the McGuinty government seems to disagree. In his Annual Energy Conservation Progress Report – 2009, Volume 1, Environmental Commissioner of Ontario Gord Miller writes, “the government’s approach to energy conservation appears uncoordinated and improvised, with no clear plan.” This is not good enough.

Improving energy efficiency and conservation is the lowest cost option to addressing our future energy needs. Although Ontario will need new electrical generating capacity, improved energy efficiency would reduce the amount of expensive capital investments needed in energy production at a lower per kWh price. In fact, according to the pre-eminent management consulting firm McKinsey & Company, investments in energy efficiency have higher rates of return than both the stock market and the real estate market.

The Green Party plan for energy efficiency prioritizes buildings and transportation, where the vast majority of energy is consumed in Ontario.

A Green building program would retrofit homes, businesses and public buildings, creating thousands of jobs in construction and trades while saving us money on electricity and heating fuels. Ontario can also require stricter green building codes for new construction to ensure that we are planning responsibly for higher energy costs in the future.

A Green transportation plan would reverse the transit cuts in the recent provincial budget, increase investment in rail for shipping, and support smarter planning with an aim to reducing fossil fuel use and sprawl. In addition, a Green plan would support alternative fuel vehicles in order to reduce our dependence on expensive and dirty oil.

With the right leadership, a rigorous and consistent energy efficiency plan is within reach. To get there, the Green Party supports a coordinated and transparent public process that engages Ontarians in developing sensible solutions to achieve energy savings across all sectors. The result would be smarter, cleaner development for our communities and the economy. It’s a question of priority.