08/09/2012

Energy conservation is the most efficient and effective way for municipalities to reduce energy costs and protect the environment. August 2012 Backgrounder.
As operators of numerous public facilities with high energy demands – from offices to community centres and long-term care homes – municipalities can reap many benefits from energy conservation.

Yet this potential goes largely untapped because municipalities lack the resources and tools to make the most of this opportunity. Instead, rising energy costs have hit the municipal bottom line hard, both in terms of increased costs and reduced industrial tax base. 

Energy conservation should be the first priority in terms of overall energy policy design and system planning in Ontario. While some local governments have been active in this area for a number of years, many small and medium-sized municipalities lack the staff, technological capacity, and financial resources to develop energy management plans. 

That is why AMO is a strong supporter of energy efficiency and conservation and demand management (CDM) programs developed specifically for the municipal sector – something that has been lacking since the Ontario government’s short-lived Municipal Eco Challenge Fund was abruptly cancelled in 2009. 

CDM programs save money, create local jobs, improve system reliability and fight climate change. The large demand reduction potential of municipalities will not be realized without capacity support, especially for the 314 municipalities with less than 20,000 people. 

Ontario needs to consider conservation programming that looks beyond technology-focused pilots and electricity demand reduction to the crucial goal of developing staff capacity. This goal is best supported by:

  • A one-window approach for Municipalities to access Ontario Power Authority (OPA) programs;
  • Special municipal account managers at the utility level; and,
  • The Energy Efficiency Services Providers (EESP) program, offered by AMO subsidiary, Local Authority Services (LAS) and funded by the OPA, which helps capacity-constrained municipalities reduce their energy consumption and save money by taking advantage of incentive programs.

Municipal Energy Overview

The municipal sector now spends well over $1 billion per year on energy. 
  • Water and waste water treatment accounts for roughly 33 per cent of municipal energy use.
  • Great conservation potential: reduction estimates range between 12 and 15%.
  • The only dedicated provincial funding for municipal energy conservation was cancelled in 2009.
  • 77 per cent of Ontario’s municipalities have less than 20,000 people, and therefore, lack the capacity needed to invest in conservation.