To conserve or not to conserve?

Our Ontario heroes at the Green Energy Coalition (GEC) have saved Ontario-rate payers billions on their gas and electricity bills over the years.They did it by convincing the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) to uphold and enforce strong energy efficiency rules.It is the hard slogging research, legal, and economic work that gets little attention or recognition because it's complicated, boring and absolutely essential.So I want to give the GEC a shout-out of gratitude.GEC’s David Poch and Kai Millyard do their work quietly in the background, so when they expressed exasperation the other day, I sat up in my chair.Important matters the GEC are pursuing need more support, so I thought: “It’s time to lend them a hand”.Something has gone wrong at the OEB and unless we marshal a lot of support, years of work and billions spent on smart meters and other conservation measures will be lost.NO CARROT, NO STICKThe OEB has recently signalled it wants to reduce the incentive for Ontarians to conserve energy and it plans to freeze gas utility budgets for all conservation programs for 6 years — a move contrary to a clear government directive.Right now you pay part of the distribution costs of electricity (wires, transformers etc.) in a fixed charge and part of the distribution cost is tied to how much power you use. The OEB plans to change that, and allow 100% of the distribution fee to be collected as a fixed monthly charge, removing all incentive to conserve or improve energy efficiency! Bad for the environment. Bad for the wallet. Bad economics. #BadIdea.Ontario has a policy to reduce emissions 15% by 2020–not strong enough, but moves in the right direction. To pursue this policy, they told the OEB to require the gas utilities to pursue ALL cost-effective energy savings available in the conservation programs they offer their customers.I know this sounds arcane, but it's actually a powerful policy with major benefits (if actually implemented). Not only is it good for Ontario families — it's a smart greenhouse gas-reduction policy that we've been working towards for years.The OEB is acting contrary to instruction from the Minister of Energy Bob Chiarelli, but the minister has been silent.Quiet communications have not gotten the Minister's attention, nor did a recent Toronto star editorial, so I am asking you to help get his attention.CLICK HERE to email Bob Chiarelli and demand he force the OEB to carry out his government's mandate.He needs to know we support energy conservation and efficiency and want action now!For more information download the download the GEC Backgrounder.Thanks for your ongoing support.Sincerely,John Bennett, National Program DirectorSierra Club Canada Foundation1510-1 Nicholas StreetOttawa, Ontario K1N 7B7jb@sierraclub.caJohn on Twitter / Bennett Blog