Natural Gas Electricity Generation and Ontario Energy Decisions

From the September 9th, Ontario Climate Caucus Meeting

IESO Natural Gas Phase Out Report

Thanks to all your municipal resolutions the profile of this effort has been gaining momentum, so firstly thank you all for the Council discussions and resolutions calling for the decarbonization of Ontario's electricity system. It is because of your council discussions that the importance of this effort has increased.

The IESO has stated that they will be undertaking a report that will:

Unfortunately, the Scope of the IESO study will not consider:

  • Policy recommendations (so not exploring policies that would enable the natural gas phase out;
  • Decarbonization impacts from decarbonization of the economy; or
  • Emission impacts resulting from other jurisdictions.

Therefore, there is still the need for a Study that will look at the policies and actions that would enable Ontario to phase out fossil fuels from the grid. The goal would be a study that would explore different pathways and identify the pros and cons of different policies that would enable Ontario to phase out fossil fuels from the electricity system. As such there is a collective effort occurring to undertake such a Study that would look at:

  • Energy Efficiency Pathway
  • Solar Potential Pathway
  • Demand Response Pathway
  • Wind Potential Pathway
  • Storage Potential Pathway
  • Inter-Provincial Electricity Pathway
  • How this all fits into Ontario's Energy System as a whole
  • How this can advance the energy and climate literacy of Ontarians as a whole

The IESO report is slated for release at the end of September (though this may be delayed). Once it is released, we will bring an analysis to the Ontario Climate Caucus. We will also have an update on the collective approach to undertake the needed Study that would look at the policies and actions that would enable Ontario to meet electricity needs within a decarbonized electricity system. Just wanted to let you know that there is a collective effort exploring such a Study.

Just a summary that the decarbonization of the electricity system will be critical to enabling 2030 GHG reduction targets. In addition, most of the money spent on fossil fuels leaves the province (either heading to the US or Western Canada) but money spent on electricity stays within the Province, so there are economic development considerations that come into this as well.

The IESO reports to the Ontario Energy Board. The Ontario Energy Board receives its mandate from the Ministry of Energy. The IESO is responsible for electricity planning in the Province of Ontario.

ACTION ITEM: Clean Air Partnership will be working with a team of municipalities and organizations to determine how we would get the Study that SHOULD be done undertaken in order to advance a constructive dialogue on options for HOW and WHAT would be needed to achieve a natural gas phase out.

Advance a Draft Resolution at Council - Provides an opportunity to advance energy literacy and awareness building within Councils. Council endorsed recommendations to the Province will play a critical role in building provincial support for such an action. Jack Gibbons from Clean Air Coalition ( is available to provide deputations as can Gaby from Clean Air Partnership ( Below are the municipalities that have passed resolutions from their Councils.

  • Kitchener City Council unanimously called on the Government of Ontario to phase-out Ontario's gas-fired power plants by 2030 to ensure that the province can meet its 2030 climate target. Watch the video here (discussion starts 1 hr. 28 min.).
  • Halton Hills Town Council unanimously requested the province "to reverse its plan for increased power production at its gas-fired power plants" and instead invest in energy efficiency, wind and solar energy and to "begin negotiations with the Province of Quebec to purchase clean hydro electricity" to replace power from the Pickering Nuclear Station, which is scheduled to close in 2024. Watch the video here (discussion starts at 5 min.)
  • On November 11th, the City of Hamilton unanimously passed a resolution calling on the Government of Ontario to phase-out the province's gas-fired power plants by 2030.
  • City of Burlington council unanimously supported a resolution regarding phasing out natural gas for electricity generation.
  • Township of King passed a resolution calling for a phase-out of natural gas for electricity production by 2030.
  • City of Windsor passed a resolution calling for the phase-out of natural gas for electricity generation by 2030 on November 23rd, 2020.
  • Township of Selwyn passed a resolution calling for the phase-out of natural gas for electricity generation by 2030 on November 24th, 2020.

Ontario's Natural Gas Decisions

Jack Gibbons from the Ontario Clean Air Alliance provided a presentation on the electricity decisions that will increase Ontario's electricity GHG emissions as a result of increased generation from natural gas plants. He also spoke to what this means for Ontario communities. Specifically, the lower cost and cleaner alternatives available to keep electricity bills low; the emerging distributed energy transition, and the objective of phasing out gas electricity generation in order to meet our 2030 GHG reduction targets.

Energy Decisions Follow Up:

The highlights re the Recommendations are:

1) Natural Gas Infrastructure Expansion: That transparency related to the cost-benefit of natural gas infrastructure expansion consider and provide information on:

  • how much it costs per customer connection and the payback period for that infrastructure expansion; and
  • what other options were considered in order to meet the customer's energy needs, including energy efficiency and renewable energy.

2) Natural Gas Electricity Generation and Phase Out of Natural Gas in Electricity Generation by 2030: Concern about the implications of Ontario's decision to increase natural gas' contribution to Ontario's electricity production. Ontario phased out coal-powered electricity generation in order to address air pollution public health care costs and meet our 2020 GHG reduction target. Increased use of natural gas for electricity generation will greatly undermine Ontario's ability to meet our 2030 GHG reduction targets and will greatly diminish the ability of Ontario municipalities to achieve their climate commitments and targets. The recommendation that the Province makes a commitment to phase out natural gas electricity generation by 2030. This timeframe coincides with Ontario's 2030 GHG target date and approximately 90% of Ontario's contracted gas generation capacity will expire on or before 2030.

3) The Need to Invest in Local Energy Solutions

Municipalities would like to work with the province to develop an Energy Decision Making Matrix to help understand and compare potential options for meeting our energy needs. Some of the areas we would like to better understand include:

  • Advancing deeper energy efficiency opportunities
  • Traditional, decentralized and individual generation scenarios, and how they impact or support each other
  • Identification of the various pros and cons, and costs and benefits associated with each of these scenarios, and the development of a transparent decision matrix to compare among them
  • The application of different lenses to these decisions, including resilience, climate, traditional economic, social, market transformation, etc.

4) Climate Lens Application into Energy Decisions: Municipalities have been declaring climate emergencies and are working to apply a climate lens to their decision making. It would be logical for those entrenched in Ontario's energy system to also factor climate commitments and impacts into their decision making.