Tag: energy

Canada is at an economic and social tipping point because of our inability to get energy resource infrastructure built. The business community presses for action from federal government

Canada’s resource sector remains a vital driver of our economy, helping to create jobs and economic prosperity not just for those who work in the sector, but for millions of Canadians across the country.  These resources must be developed responsibly and sustainably and we must support the development of the infrastructure required to ship them to markets across Canada and around the world.   

The oil and gas industry is Canada’s largest private investor, $40 billion annually.  Canada is currently struggling to attract investment to the resource sector. Rising costs from increased taxation, a burdensome regulatory environment, and the lack of pipeline infrastructure is negatively affecting our ability to compete for the capital needed to create jobs and national prosperity.

In an effort to resolve some of these issues, the government introduced Bill C-69, a piece of government legislation titled “The modernization of the National Energy Board Act (NEBA) and Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA).” It seeks to overhaul both the NEBA and CEAA, changing how major infrastructure projects are reviewed and approved in Canada.  The Bill has been passed by the House of Commons and is now in its third reading in Senate.

Although the Canadian Chamber supports the objective of a review and assessment process initiated by the government, the business community has a number of concerns with Bill C69 as it contains flaws that could seriously disadvantage specific sectors. 

As drafted, Bill C69 could lead to greater uncertainty in the assessment and review processes. The new bill requires assessment and decisions based on broad public policy questions that are beyond the scope of individual projects. It introduces longer timelines, and vague criteria that will increase the risk of legal challenges. Additionally, it gives the Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada broad discretionary powers, which could further increase uncertainty for major infrastructure projects

Unless these issues are resolved, the legislation will increase regulatory uncertainty for many of Canada’s resource sectors and their related industries.  This uncertainty will deter investment and undermine economic growth and job creation.  Attempting to deal with the diversity of projects covered by the legislation with a one-size-fits-all legislative solution is doomed to fail.  To achieve its intended purpose, Bill C69 must be flexible enough to address the unique circumstances of all of our resource and infrastructure projects from ports, mining and utilities, to oil and gas, among others. 

Subsequently, the Oakville Chamber is joining other Chambers across the country to call on the government to make amendments to Bill C-69 that will institute a regulatory process that allows for certainty, predictability and transparency to the Bill. This requires clear deadlines, keeping larger national policy discussion separate from the technical project reviews, and respecting provincial jurisdictions.  We are calling on the government to get our energy resources to tidewater, starting by recognizing that the Trans-Mountain Expansion is in the national interest and by expediting its construction in uncontested jurisdictions. 

Pipeline delays and cancellations, open-ended and expensive consultation processes, and general project uncertainty have already scared off a great deal of investment capital and have put many projects at risk.

If this bill is passed without significant amendments, it will create enormous uncertainty, more red tape and increased court challenges. Not only for the energy sector but for virtually every major infrastructure project in Canada for years to come, threatening our economic prosperity.

In a global business environment, it is critical that our regulatory systems balance economic growth with environmental protection and that our elected government create the conditions for that sustainable growth.

– Faye Lyons, Vice President of Government Relations & Advocacy






Advocacy and Policy Update: 2017 Long-Term Energy Plan (LTEP)

On October 26th, the Ontario Government released its 2017 Long-Term Energy Plan. The plan comes after a year-long consultation, which saw engagement from across the province. Below is a high-level synopsis of the plan, including the Ontario Chamber Network’s analysis and comparison to their Long-Term Energy Submission, Leading the Charge.

Key Initiatives identified in Delivering Fairness and Choice for Business:

Ensuring Affordable and Accessible Energy

The LTEP projects that the residential price for electricity will remain below the outlooks published in the 2010 and 2013 Long-Term Energy Plans.The LTEP highlights how The Fair Hydro Plan will reduce electricity bills by 25 per cent (on average) for residents, small businesses and farms.The government will continue to support the expansion of natural gas, providing customers with more choice and aiding economic development in their communities. Analysis: In Leading the Charge, we advocated that government’s long-term energy plan must respect the principles of affordability and competitiveness. We are pleased to see the 2017 LTEP has placed an  emphasis on ensuring affordability as one of its fundamental pillars. Reducing electricity costs for industry and small business is a top priority of the Ontario Chamber Network. Under the Affordable and Accessible Energy section, the LTEP points to the government’s measures to help business and industry with energy costs. The plan points out the Save on Energy for Business programs, including the provincial government’s partnership with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce to raise awareness about these energy efficiency programs through Know Your PowerLearn more.

Ensuring a Flexible Energy System

The LTEP further emphasis  the Market Renewal Process currently being undertaken by the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO), allowing the province to adjust to changes and cost-efficiency and acquire electricity resources  needed to meet future demand. Analysis: The 2017 LTEP  re-affirms that Ontario needs a flexible energy system that can meet possible future outlooks. Flexibility ensures that Ontario has the ability to respond to changing market conditions, allowing the province to balance electricity demand and supply. Market Renewal could transform Ontario’s wholesale electricity market and ultimately result in a more competitive and flexible energy procurement system.

Innovating to Meet the Future

The LTEP promises to invest in  cost-effective energy storage by updating regulations, including addressing how the Global Adjustment is charged for storage projects. The Government plans to work with the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) to provide customers greater choice in their electricity plans. The LTEP proposes to expand the options for net metering to give building owners more opportunities to access renewable energy generation and energy storage technologies. Analysis: Leading the Charge called on the government to continue to pursue and maintain a balanced supply mix, while seeking to invest in transformation and cost-saving technologies such as energy storage. The Ontario Chamber Network has long recognized that new technologies such as energy storage will be complementary to peaking resources such as wind and solar while supporting the baseload operation of nuclear power. We were pleased to see a commitment to nuclear refurbishment projects such as Darlington, the life extension project at the Bruce Power facility, and the continued operations of Pickering mentioned explicitly.

Improving Value and Performance for Customers

The government plans to enhance the energy sector becomes as a more consumer-focused, and commits to working with the OEB to improve the performance and efficiency of LCDs, and to redesign electricity bills to make it easier for consumers to understand and manage their energy costs. The government will direct the IESO to develop a competitive selection or procurement process for transmission, and to identify possible pilot projects. Analysis: Electricity bills need to be clearer and more understandable. While the 2017 LTEP  makes a positive step in this direction, the Ontario Chamber Network will continue to advocate for greater transparency and predictability in the energy system, including the need for the government to create a separate line item on natural gas bills for cap and trade-related costs.

Energy Conservation and Efficiency

The LTEP places a further emphasis on the importance of a Demand Response capacity auction. The government provided insight into its Green Ontario Fund, which will provide energy consumers with a co-ordinated one-window approach to encourage conservation across multiple energy services and programs. Analysis: The 2017 LTEP commits to conservation as a means for sustaining Ontario’s energy system and a tool for consumers to manage their energy costs, while emphasizing the importance of Demand Response mechanisms such as  a capacity auction. Since 2015,  the Ontario Chamber Network has called for a  capacity auction, as a means to create  greater opportunities for Demand Response to grow further and compete with other resources.   

Responding to Climate Change

The Government remains committed to an electricity system that includes renewable energy generation and supports the goals of Ontario’s Climate Change Action Plan (CCAP). The LTEP plans to strengthen the ability of the energy industry to anticipate the effects of climate change and integrates its impacts into its operational and infrastructure planning. Analysis: The Ontario Chamber Network’s submission to the LTEP, Leading the Charge, called on the government to ensure energy planning is aligned with Ontario’s CCAP  goals. The 2017 LTEP reaffirms this ask and supports the alignment. Also, in the Ontario Chamber Network’s submission to the Long-Term Infrastructure Plan, Building Better: Setting up the Next Ontario Long-Term Infrastructure Plan for Success, we call on the government to ensure that the province’s infrastructure planning is also aligned with the Climate Change Action Plan.

Supporting Regional Solutions and Infrastructure

The government commits to working with local communities to develop plans for meeting their diverse energy requirements. The government has indicated with the first cycle of regional and municipal energy planning complete, the IESO will begin making recommendations that address the challenges and opportunities that have emerged in individual communities.  Analysis: The Ontario Chamber Network is encouraged to see the expansion of natural gas, particularly for northern communities, giving consumers greater choice and aiding in economic development. Natural gas assets enabled the transition off coal-fired generation and provided a source of on-demand power to backstop wind and solar resources. As a flexible and responsive resource, natural gas adaptability will be instrumental for regional planning as a mechanism to keep costs down.

Our Position:

The Oakville Chamber of Commerce, along with the Ontairo Chamber Network, has long been active in advocating for a principled and pragmatic approach to energy planning. We were encouraged to see that Ontario’s Long-Term Energy Plan 2017: Delivering Fairness and Choice delivers broad alignment with the Ontario Chamber Network’s previous policy stance. The 2017 LTEP, echoes the Network’s call for the need to ensure competitive and affordable rates through new procurement models. The Ontario Chamber Network was pleased to see the strong commitment made to Ontario’s nuclear sector, including the refurbishment projects at Ontario Power Generation’s (OPG) Darlington site and Bruce Power’s facility in Tiverton, as well as a renewed commitment  to pursue continued operations at OPG’s Pickering site.  We also applaud government on the initial integration of Ontario’s CCAP into our energy planning system. While today’s plan places an emphasis on ensuring affordability and flexibility, the Ontario Chamber Network will continue to advocate that further rate mitigation strategies must be developed and aimed specifically at the business sector.

What’s Next?

The release of the LTEP today provides us with an encouraging glimpse into Ontario’s energy future. The Ontario Chamber Network will continue to advocate for the reduction of input costs for businesses and looks forward to working with the government to deliver on its energy priorities.