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New study shows energy cost savings potential for Ontario greenhouses

October 10, 2019

Ontario’s greenhouse sector is growing fast, and a new report by the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) shows there is great potential for energy efficiency to help manage increasing electricity demand in the sector while reducing costs for greenhouses.

The greenhouse sector is one of the fastest-growing sources of electricity demand in Ontario. In Kingsville-Leamington alone, electricity demand is expected to increase by more than 200 per cent from 2018 to 2026. Vegetable and fruit greenhouses are the largest driver of growth across the province, while cannabis is starting to have an impact as growers ramp up their operations.

The IESO, with support from Enbridge Gas Inc. and the Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers, collaborated with Ontario’s agriculture sector to produce the Greenhouse Energy Profile Study. The study summarizes how energy is used across sub-sectors and regions in 2018 and forecasts energy use and savings potential from 2019 to 2024.  

“Supporting Ontario’s thriving greenhouse sector is a priority of the IESO,” says Terry Young, the IESO’s Vice President of Policy, Engagement, and Innovation. “Providing opportunities for energy efficiency and innovation will complement transmission upgrades by making best use of existing infrastructure. This will help ensure that greenhouses have the reliable and affordable electricity they need to grow.”       

As one of the most cost-effective energy resources, energy efficiency provides a valuable resource to help offset the cost of energy supply at 2 cents per KWh. Energy efficiency can help manage increasing electricity demand while supporting business growth and competitiveness. 

The Save on Energy Retrofit program, available through the IESO, can help greenhouses better manage their energy use and reduce monthly electricity costs through incentives to upgrade various equipment and lighting.

The IESO is also inviting proposals through its Grid Innovation Fund from November 18 to February 14, 2020, for innovative indoor agricultural projects that have the potential to cost-effectively reduce electricity demand from facilities during local and provincial peak periods.

Community engagement is critical to understanding future electricity needs, and the IESO has been active in the Windsor-Essex region to ensure the electricity system is set to handle new growth. Earlier this year, the IESO requested Hydro One develop a new transmission line from Chatham to Leamington that will increase electricity supply to the area.

Additional quotes

“Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers was pleased to participate with the IESO and other stakeholders. Access to energy infrastructure and competitive rates is a key piece of the puzzle and will enable our members to grow fresh, high quality food year-round and contribute to meeting healthy eating and food security goals across the province.”

-Nathan Warkentin, Energy & Environment Analyst, Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers

“Understanding how our greenhouse customers use energy and the challenges that they face will allow Enbridge to deliver even more effective energy conservation programs.”

-Pierce Jones, Supervisor, C&I Program QA/QC, Enbridge

Key facts

  • Ontario’s greenhouse sector is the largest in Canada and is set to increase production up to 50 per cent over the next five years.
  • Ontario’s greenhouse electricity consumption is forecast to increase 180 per cent to 3.9 TWh by 2024, up from 1.4 TWh in 2018, driven by expansion in the prime growing regions of Essex, Chatham-Kent, Norfolk and Niagara.
  • Electricity consumption related to cannabis is projected to increase 1,250 per cent over the next five years. This large increase reflects the fact that cannabis facilities were only producing product in 10 per cent of the 10.2 million ft2 dedicated to cannabis growth in 2018. The remaining facility area is expected to be fully operational by 2023.
  • Switching to LED grow lights can result in energy savings of up to 55 per cent.

Additional information


About the IESO

The IESO operates Ontario’s power grid 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, ensuring Ontarians receive a reliable and cost-effective source of power when and where they need it. It works with sector partners and engages with communities across Ontario to plan and prepare for the province’s electricity needs now and into the future. Visit for more information.

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