Regional energy planning relies on effective engagement with municipalities, Aboriginal communities, stakeholders and members of the general public.
An August 2013 report by the Independent Electricity Systems Operator (IESO) and the Ontario Power Authority (OPA), “Engaging Local Communities in Ontario’s Electricity Planning Continuum,” recommended improving municipal engagement and public consultation, and ensuring that large infrastructure is located in the right place from the start. The government will adopt all of the recommendations from the report, which are grouped under the following themes:
- Bringing Communities to the Table - The government and its energy agencies will reach out to local communities early and often to ensure that representatives of municipalities, First Nation and Métis communities and local businesses can participate in the planning of their region’s energy needs.
- Linking Local and Provincial Planning - The government and its energy agencies will work to enhance regional energy plans by considering social, environmental and development objectives.
- Reinforcing Planning - The OPA will give greater consideration to local priorities in the siting of generating facilities.
- Enhancing Awareness - The IESO and the OPA will make information on the energy needs and supply options for the 21 electricity regions in Ontario available to the public. Subsequently, the government will develop a strategy to increase the general public’s understanding of Ontario’s energy needs, the options for meeting them, and opportunities for getting involved in the planning process.
The province, along with IESO and the OPA have already begun to implement some of the recommendations:
- To promote community energy planning, the government has launched two programs:
- The Municipal Energy Plan Program, which is designed to help municipalities better understand their local energy needs and conservation opportunities, set goals and develop implementation plans.
- The Aboriginal Community Energy Plan Program, which is delivered by the OPA and designed to help Aboriginal communities identify and act upon their local conservation and renewable energy development opportunities.
- The OPA recently launched a Regional Planning website, detailing activities that are underway in a number of communities - Ottawa (and area), Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge-Guelph, Leamington, York Region, Central-Downtown Toronto and Nipigon-Greenstone.
- In response to calls for better tools and resources to improve energy literacy, Ontario has launched emPOWERme, an interactive resource that uses videos, graphics, interactive tools and fact sheets to explain the fundamentals of electricity.