Ontario is a large province. Ontario communities are diverse, including remote communities that do not use gas or have access to the electricity grid. As such, a one size fits all provincial approach to energy planning is problematic. Provincial approaches to energy planning deal with large transmission and distribution infrastructures, large amounts of public funds, with no thermal integration or land use integration. Community level planning is the antithesis to this approach, using small infrastructure, private funds and an integrated energy approach including electricity, natural gas and water, integrated with land use and economic development opportunities. Community level planning has increased local economic benefits, whereby energy investments stay in the community. Furthermore, this style of planning complements and relieves pressure on larger transmission systems; offers greater environmental benefits; and a more robust, resilient energy system with increased energy security and flexibility.
Using population growth estimates and associated long term planning trends as identified through the Places to Grow Act, the City of Toronto realized future pressures on the City’s energy distribution system would be considerable. Toronto’s Community Energy Study informs the long term land use and energy planning context for growth areas within the City. It identifies energy load profiles and opportunities to address energy growth load at source through embedded energy solutions that are compatible with the urban environment, as well as a process for planning and implementing energy conservation and embedded energy supply solutions. These solutions are both commercially and financially viable, achieving conservation and GHG reduction targets, while minimizing life cycle costs and maximizing grid resiliency and energy security. The plan is not prescriptive, and allows for flexibility between developers and the City throughout the development process.
Through the ongoing sharing of community energy planning efforts and lessons learned Clean Air Council members have accelerated their collective community energy knowledge, capacity and efforts, resulting in greater implementation of Community Energy Plans in the Province.