Ontario Electricity Distributors Pleased with Conservation Direction

TORONTO, Dec. 2, 2013 /CNW/ - The Electricity Distributors Association (EDA) is pleased to see continued signals - in the new Long-Term Energy Plan (LTEP) released today - that local distributors will assume leadership in fostering energy conservation across the province, and in helping to meet strengthened conservation targets.

"We're supportive of the indication we see in today's plan that local distribution companies will be much more central to conservation initiatives going forward - including a more prominent role in program design and delivery, and more flexibility in addressing local needs," says EDA Chair Rene Gatien.

Government signaled a clear intention in a Conservation First white paper released in the summer to strengthen the role of local distribution companies. This would involve moving away from the existing highly centralized approach, under which largely standardized provincial conservation programs are used.

The LTEP released today appears to affirm that intention, specifically noting that LDCs are the "face of conservation for most Ontarians, delivering programs to their local communities". EDA President and CEO Charlie Macaluso notes, however, that it will be important that this recognition is accompanied by a proper balance of accountabilities and rewards, and by follow-through on the commitment to provide distributors with appropriate "authority and means" to achieve conservation goals.

The EDA also notes favourably the commitments in the plan to better inform consumers regarding electricity pricing outlooks and influencing factors, and to provide expanded tools that may enable consumers to more actively participate in conservation and to help moderate price increases. The concept of on-bill financing of energy-efficiency improvements is of particular interest to distribution companies and one the EDA has previously advocated for.

"As the billing agent for the entire electrical system, distributors are very highly attuned to price sensitivities," says Macaluso. "We've clearly identified extensive opportunities for improved efficiencies, and we hope today's plan will mark the start of expanded engagement with government on that."

In an extensive plan released last year, the EDA identified well over $500 million in potential distribution-related savings, through a range of regulatory reforms and other measures on which government action is required. A task force created by the association earlier this year has been mandated to work with government to realize these savings.

In addition to an extensive conservation-related submission, the EDA made various other LTEP-related recommendations to government, with a particular emphasis on facilitating innovation. The plan released today also contains favourable indications in this regard, specifically relating to: expansion of the Smart Grid Fund; addressing regulatory barriers to enhance the feasibility of energy storage technologies in Ontario; and support for efforts to advance combined heat and power (CHP) and energy-from-waste initiatives.

The EDA looks forward to engaging with the government on the further development of a new conservation framework, and on other aspects of LTEP implementation.

About the EDA
The Electricity Distributors Association (EDA) is the voice of Ontario's local electricity distributors, the publicly and privately owned companies that safely and reliably deliver electricity to nearly five million Ontario homes, businesses and public institutions.

SOURCE Electricity Distributors Association

For further information:

please contact the EDA's Director of Corporate Affairs and Communications, Kevin Hanson, at (905) 265-5337 / (647) 627-1826.