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Conservation First Framework

​Ontarians have embraced conservation, and its role in meeting electricity demand is only growing. Conservation First is the guiding principle that now places conservation at the forefront of Ontario’s energy planning and procurement processes, ensuring it is the first option to be considered in planning for electricity needs.  

The 2015-2020 Conservation First Framework maps out Ontario’s energy conservation goals over the next six
years, emphasizing a coordinated effort within all stages of energy planning, as well as more effective
teamwork among sector partners, particularly in support of local distribution companies (LDCs).


The Framework

The goal of the framework is a total reduction of 8.7 TWh of electricity consumption in Ontario by
December, 2020 — 1.7 TWh to be achieved through conservation projects with transmission-connected
customers, and 7 TWh from conservation programs delivered by LDCs to residential and business customers across the province.  


Flexibility for Distributors and Customer Choice

The framework gives a much larger role to the province’s distributors, each being assigned a share of the 7 TWh target that they can pursue individually or in partnership with other LDCs.

The IESO is providing tools, support and guidance to LDCs to help them meet their targets through the development of a six-year Conservation and Demand Management (CDM) Plan. The plan allows LDCs to design their own program offerings, giving them greater flexibility to align conservation programs to local needs, and give customers more choice. It will also ensure long-term, stable funding to give LDCs the certainty they need to implement and deliver their programs. In addition, new administrative requirements now mean the IESO has sole approval over plans and program offerings, ensuring oversight while still streamlining processes.

Provincial, and Regional/Local Program Rules »

Conservation & Demand Management Plans » 

2015 LDC Conservation Results »

LDC Tool Kit and Energy Conservation Agreement »


Conservation Results and Evaluations

The IESO provides ongoing information about the progress of Save on Energy efforts – including analysis of conservation targets and programs.   More information about LDC specific results is available on the LDC Tool Kit.

  • Conservation Report:  Updates on progress made in achieving conservation targets are published on a quarterly and annual basis.
  • Achievable Potential Study (2016):  The Achievable Potential Study (APS) reports provide an estimate of the short-term electricity conservation potential that is achievable within the Conservation First Framework time frame for the province and for each electricity distributor, as well as the potential over a 20-year horizon.
    ​Note: The Achievable Potential Study and associated reports, originally released on June 30, 2016, were reposted on December 20​, 2016 to incorporate corrections to a small number of non-material errors.   ​

Collaboration and Partnerships

Collaboration, to maximize efficiencies and reduce costs, is a key focus in the 2015-2020 Framework. The IESO is working closely with LDCs, who are in turn encouraged to partner with other utilities to meet energy reduction targets. Examples of how teamwork is encouraged include: 

  • A simplified approval process for combined CDM plans of two or more LDCs;

  • The provision of a specialized template and materials to help utilities adopt a regional approach to resourcing;

  • The encouragement of partnerships, where appropriate, with natural gas distributors, for cooperating in areas such as marketing and customer engagement where they share customers or program goals with LDCs;

  • Additional financial support through the IESO, above and beyond CDM Plan budgets, for groups of collaborating LDCs that partner within their respective regions or with utilities that share similar opportunities and challenges.


Regional and Community Planning Integration

With an eye to ensuring coordination within the sector, LDCs are required to describe how their conservation programs consider needs and investments identified in other stages of energy planning, including Integrated Regional Resource Planning, distribution system plans, and community energy plans.

By sharing CDM plans and associated activities, LDCs give other planners information on program commitments and projected savings, and in turn can better identify areas for focusing resources and partnering with other utilities. LDCs can, for example, target programs and marketing to customers in areas with greater energy requirements. 

Contributing to and benefiting from these initiatives could ultimately help achieve local reliability at a lower cost to ratepayers. 

Although CDM plans focus on 2015-2020 period, the work they do may lay the groundwork for achieving savings that address the longer-term needs identified through regional planning.

Read more about regional planning in Ontario.


Transmission-Connected Customer Targets

The 1.7 TWh reduction target will be delivered through the Industrial Accelerator Program, which offers financial incentives to industrial, commercial and institutional customers directly connected to the electricity grid. Incentives encourage the implementation of major energy conservation projects, such as process changes and equipment retrofits.

In response to stakeholder feedback, the IESO is currently refining the program design to improve the customer experience and streamline administration. More on the Enhancements to the IAP »  


Innovative Program Design Elements

  • The new Framework promotes innovation and the adoption of new technologies through the LDC Program Innovation Stream. The Stream provides additional funding for LDC-led program design and market testing of small-scale pilot programs, which refine program delivery at less risk to the ratepayer.

  • The IESO will begin to formally include benefits not directly related to energy savings when weighing the total costs and benefits of proposed conservation programs. These include environmental, economic and social benefits, like increased comfort, reductions in carbon emissions, and better air or water quality, and highlight the advantages of conservation to society as a whole.

  • Energy managers are professionals trained to identify areas for energy efficiency and improvement, often with specific expertise within a sector or an area like lighting. The IESO is working with LDCs to develop a complimentary layer of support to ensure the availability of this service throughout the province, particularly for smaller LDCs. ​