June 28, 2013
New Mowat research on energy planning for Ontario.
Toronto – The Mowat Centre at the School of Public Policy & Governance at the University of Toronto has released a new research study recommending that the province adopt new energy planning processes that engage the public.
New, more transparent planning processes will increase public confidence in important provincial energy policy questions and significant infrastructure investment decisions.
The report, Getting the Green Light: The Path to Public Support for Ontario’s Power Plans, focuses on energy planning principles distilled from research and consultation with experts in Ontario and five other jurisdictions: New South Wales in Australia, British Columbia, Great Britain, New York State, and Sweden.
“In comparison to Ontario, other jurisdictions incorporate greater democratic review and accountability in planning. Public input and democratic engagement need to be strengthened in Ontario,” says Pamela Nowina, one of the authors of the study.
“This could happen in two ways: at the legislative level, for example with governmental panels, energy committees, open planning processes and on-going reporting to the legislature; and at the public level through public advocacy and consultations,” she adds.
The government of Ontario is already moving in the direction the report recommends.
Recently, the government asked the Ontario Power Authority and the Independent Electricity System Operator to develop a new regional energy planning process which would incorporate input from local communities in the development of regional plans.
Matthew Mendelsohn, Director of the Mowat Centre, says that the legislative and governance framework required for effective electricity planning already exists to a large extent in Ontario.
“The twelve specific recommendations made in this report build upon the existing policy framework. They are grouped into four themes: public engagement, good governance, integration and transparency. Each of these will strengthen the public conversations that need to take place for Ontario to ensure a secure, sustainable and affordable electricity future,” he says.