Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Ontario Failing to Live Up to Its Energy Conservation Promises: Watchdog: Ontario Not Meeting Green Promises: Watchdog

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Ontario Failing to Live Up to Its Energy Conservation Promises: Watchdog: Ontario Not Meeting Green Promises: Watchdog

Article excerpt

TORONTO - The governing Liberals have dropped the ball on energy conservation since it passed the Green Energy Act three years ago, Ontario's environmental watchdog said Tuesday.

The "bold new plan" the Liberals promised to deliver in 2009 has "given way to caution and timidity," leaving unfulfilled promises that are possibly years away from completion, commissioner Gord Miller said in the first instalment of his annual conservation report.

"They made these promises to the people, they put in place the legislation and they have ceased to deliver," he said.

The legislation paved the way for the province's shift towards renewable energy, but the government appears to have lost interest in meeting its conservation promises, he said.

Conservation is the cheapest form of energy and more important than developing wind and solar power, he said.

"We're so distracted by renewable energy," Miller said.

"The opportunity for our society in terms of saving money in being efficient is in conservation, especially with the incredible improvements in technology that have been made in recent years."

So far, the government has failed to follow through on several of its conservation commitments, he said. They include making energy audits mandatory before a home is sold, which appears to have been "quietly abandoned."

The Liberals must also live up to their promises to deliver the highest energy efficiency standards in North America for household appliances and require annual energy consumption reports for all government ministries, Miller said.

If he had to grade the Liberals on their progress on conservation, he'd have to give them an "incomplete," said the former professor.

But Ontario is a leader in conservation if you look at all its policies and programs, said Energy Minister Chris Bentley.

"If you focus on one or two areas, you will find areas where others might be doing more," he acknowledged.

The government has brought in 15 regulations on energy efficiency standards for 50 appliance product groups, and is reviewing a further 40 regulations, Bentley said. But mandatory energy audits in home sales aren't on the table right now.

It's "very challenging economically" and could burden homebuyers with extra costs, he said. …

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