Applications Open for Natural Gas Grant Program

The government is now accepting applications for a natural gas infrastructure program. The Natural Gas Grant Program, operated by Infrastructure Ontario, is providing grants to help fund the building of new natural gas infrastructure projects in municipalities, First Nations, and unincorporated territories. The program is accepting applications under two separate streams:

  1. The Expansion Stream is for projects that help convert primarily residential connections into natural gas.
  2. The Economic Development Stream is for projects that convert mostly business connection to natural gas, specifically those that help agri-businesses, rural Ontario, First Nations communities or unincorporated areas.

Find out more about this program here. Applications will be accepted until July 31st, 2017.

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BPS Energy Reporting Portal Now Open

The BPS reporting portal is now open for municipalities to report on their energy consumption for the 2017 reporting period. Public sector organizations, including municipalities, are required to report on their energy consumption as a result of O. Reg. 397/11. Information on how to complete the annual energy and GHG report, along with the dates and times for Ministry-hosted webinars, can be found in the toolkit area by logging into the Ministry of Energy’s Portal. Contact BPSsupport@ontario.ca if your require further information.

 

 

Province Developing Municipal Carbon Emissions Targets

The province is developing a plan for helping municipalities measure, cap and cut their carbon emissions. According to the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, the province’s framework for municipalities will be developed over the next two years, and will include actions to help municipalities improve local land-use policies, strengthen local energy planning, and reduce traffic congestion and emissions from all forms of transportation.

Province Announces New Natural Gas Grant Program

The government of Ontario has announced a new natural gas grant program, that will provide $100 million in funding to expand natural gas into communities that do not currently have service. However, despite announcing this program at the Rural Ontario Municipal Association (ROMA) Conference yesterday, it will not begin to accept applications until the spring of 2017. The program will replace a previously-announced, but yet-to-be-implemented, natural gas loan program that would have allocated $200 million for same purpose.

For more:

News Release: Expanding Natural Gas to More Communities Across Ontario 

Government Consulting on Long-Term Energy Plan

The government launched consultations last week as it works to develop Ontario’s next Long-Term Energy Plan (LTEP). As part of its outreach, the Ministry of Energy released a consultation guide that is intended to help guide feedback from citizens and stakeholders. Topics of consultation include, but are not limited to, distribution and grid modernization, transmission, storage, innovation, conservation, and regional planning.

Anyone interested in contributing feedback can do so by submitting written comments, or participating in one of a number of in-person consultations taking place across the province.

 

Government Proposing Changes to Northern Industrial Electricity Rate Program

The Ministry of Northern Development and Mines (MNDM) is proposing changes to the Northern Industrial Electricity Rate (NIER) program. The government’s 2015 budget committed to $120 million in annual funding to support northern industrial facilities, with the goal of providing larger electricity users in the north with relief from the cost pressures associated with high electricity prices. MNDM is considering a range of options for a longer term approach, including maintaining the status-quo.

Anyone interested can comment on this proposal here.

For more:

Northern Industrial Electricity Rate Program 

BPS Energy Portal Now Open for 2016 Reporting

The Ministry of Energy is sharing information on its BPS energy reporting portal, which is now open for 2016 reporting. See below for the full message from MOE:

The Ministry of Energy’s Broader Public Sector (BPS) web portal is now available for 2016 reporting.

Ontario Regulation 397/11, Energy Conservation and Demand Management Plans, requires all BPS organizations, including hospitals, municipalities, universities, colleges, school boards and municipal service boards responsible for water and sewage treatment operations to:

  • Report on their annual energy use and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in designated buildings/facilities by July 1 beginning in 2013; and
  • Develop/update and implement 5-year conservation and demand management plans (CDM) plans by July 1 starting in 2014. 

This year, BPS organizations are required to report their annual 2014 energy consumption data by July 1, 2016. Energy consumption data is to be submitted to the Ministry of Energy and made publicly available on the organization’s website and intranet site and be available in printed form at their head office.

The Ministry will be hosting a number of webinars to help public agencies better understand the reporting requirements and how to use the ministry’s reporting portal.  The list of webinar dates can be found under the BPS reporting portal in the Toolkit/Webinar button.

Should you or your staff have any questions on the regulation, or require an update to your organization’s contact information, please contact the Ministry at to BPSSupport@ontario.ca.

Province Renews Mineral Development Strategy

Ontario has released an updated Mineral Development Strategy to guide its future investments and policy in the exploration and development sector. The new strategy, which lasts for a 10-year period, is centred around four priorities:

  • Competition and innovation
  • Safety and environmental responsibility
  • Efficient and effective regulation
  • Ensuring growth for future generations

You can find a full copy of the strategy here.

Auditor General Releases Annual Report

The Auditor General released her annual report today. This years report covers a wide range of issues from the province’s home care services to economic development funding. Notably the report provided the AG’s latest review of the Ministry of Community and Social Services’ (MCSS) troubled Social Assistance Management System. On SAMS the AG found that MCSS launched the program despite not property piloting or testing it during the development phase.

Auditor General:

The Ministry launched (the program) anyway because it considered the risks of dealing the launch greater than the risks of launching a system that was not fully ready…Further, the decision to launch was based on incomplete and inaccurate information about SAMS’ readiness.

As of November 2015, SAMS glitches had resulted in $89 million in potential overpayments, and $51 in potential underpayments, with the system itself costing the government an additional $41 million more than what was allocated.

The report also noted that Ontario electricity consumers paid $37 billion more than necessary from 2006 to 2014 as a result of poor government planning, unnecessarily high green energy costs, and poor service from Hydro One.

Other highlights of the report include:

  • CAS investigations of child protection cases are taking too long and often are not completed at all
  • The provinces planning process for electricity infrastructure has essential broken down over the past decade
  • Eighty percent of the province’s economic development funding goes to companies that were invited to apply through an unadvertised process
  • Inspections and follow-up of complaints stemming from long-term care homes are falling behind
  • Few of the issues raised in an audit of Community Care Access Centres five years ago have been addressed
  • The province does not coordinate or track its investments in research and innovation
  • Ontario does not have a coordinated plan for cleaning up contaminated sites across the province
  • Hydro One’s assets are degrading, resulting in service outages

For more:

Auditor General: 2015 Annual Report

Local Government Perspective on Federal Mandate Letters

Last week Prime Minister Justin Trudeau released the mandate letters that he provided to each of his cabinet ministers following their swearing-in at the beginning of November. We’ve prepared a backgrounder highlighting a local government perspective on the new Prime Ministers priorities.

Learn more here:

Backgrounder – Local Gov’t Perspective on Federal Mandate Letters