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Government of Ontario Launches Consultation on Pathways to Decarbonization

Published on
February 15, 2023

Process to seek input on “no-regret” recommendations for near term actions 

On February 13, the Government of Ontario launched a consultation on the IESO’s recent Pathways to Decarbonization study. The goal of this consultation is to identify the near-term decisions required to ensure the continued decarbonization of the provincial electricity grid.

The announcement marks the next phase of the Government’s persistent but pragmatic approach to decarbonization and system planning. Recognizing the importance of near-term decision-making to enable immediate action, as well as to start work on long lead time items that will be critical to our future system needs, the Government wishes to move ahead with some of these actions, while at the same time allowing enough flexibility in the plan to respond to changes in technologies, costs and demand.

To this end, the IESO recommended the following near term “no-regret” decisions:

  • The acceleration of current efforts to acquire new non-emitting supply, including the implementation of recent conservation and demand management directives.
  • Beginning the planning and siting work for new nuclear, long-duration storage and waterpower facilities, as well as     transmission infrastructure, to allow for faster implementation.
  • Innovation and investment in low carbon fuels, such as clean hydrogen, as they are untested at scale. Further work and investment are needed to determine if they can replace some of the flexibility that natural gas currently provides the system.
  • Galvanizing collaboration amongst stakeholders, including Indigenous communities.
  • Ensuring that regulatory, approval and permitting processes are ready to manage future investment at scale.
  • Establishing an open, transparent and traceable process to measure progress and demonstrate the results of decisions and actions taken along the way.

The deadline for feedback on the above items, and the identification of other required near-term, “no-regret” decisions, is due by May 14, 2023.

In parallel to the above consultation, the Minister’s Electrification and Energy Transition Panel (EETP) continues its work to inform critical structures required to achieve this long term vision for an integrated energy system. As specified in the Environmental Registry of Ontario (ERO) posting, the EETP:

 …has been tasked with advising government on the highest value short, - medium- and long-term opportunities for the energy sector to help Ontario’s economy prepare for electrification and the energy transition. The Panel is developing advice on how Ontario’s energy policy and planning apparatus can foster efficient co-ordination across the energy sector. This advice will inform government as it looks to develop a future integrated energy plan. 

The EETP has already begun select engagement with industry stakeholders, and will continue formal consultations over the Spring/Summer of 2023. This work is expected to culminate in a report to the Minister of Energy in Fall 2023.

The final item of note in yesterday’s ERO posting was the inclusion of OPG’s Made-in-Ontario Northern Hydroelectric Opportunities report. This report, submitted to government in 2022, identifies 4,000-5,000 MW of incremental hydro potential in Ontario. This supply, most of which is located in Northern Ontario, will be an important consideration in the above-mentioned discussions of “no-regret” decisions and system planning considerations by the Government and EETP.

The discussions outlined above will be critical to Ontario’s near term decisions on the future of our energy system and the commercial opportunities therein. We strongly encourage a robust participation in these efforts to ensure informed, timely decisions are made that impact our industry and our economy.

Happy to help.

As always, Sussex would be pleased to support your advocacy efforts in these and other areas. Please reach out to us to discuss how we can help.

Chris Benedetti, Managing Partner


Bonnie Hiltz, Vice President and Energy Practice Group Lead


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