In Canada, as in many countries around the world, governments are developing policies aimed at achieving a net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions economy by 2050, including a clean electricity system. As the first jurisdiction in North America to completely phase-out coal-fired electricity generation, Ontario is well positioned for this transition.

Today, Ontario’s electricity system is already more than 90 per cent emissions-free, with most of its electricity coming from low-emitting resources, like hydro and nuclear.

Bridging the work of today with the needs of a decarbonized world will be challenging and complex. A collaborative approach across all sectors of the economy will be necessary to decarbonize Ontario’s electricity system while maintaining reliability and affordability.

IESO’s Response to the draft Clean Electricity Regulations

The federal government’s proposed Clean Electricity Regulations (CER), released in August, outline steps to mandate the decarbonization of electricity systems across the country. The IESO has released its formal response to the draft CER, which provides comments aimed at supporting an orderly transformation of the electricity system.

The draft CER represents a starting point for discussions on a Canada-wide transition to a net-zero electricity sector. The IESO’s response, however, illustrates why the regulations as drafted are unachievable in Ontario by 2035 without risking the reliability of the electricity system, electrification of the broader economy and economic growth. It contains recommendations that reflect the scale of this transformation, as well as the complexity of managing Ontario’s grid while accounting for the uncertainties that the retirement of natural gas will bring.

The IESO is currently working to integrate emerging technologies such as storage and hybrid generation, and enable non-traditional resources to participate in the IESO markets. These efforts will help to ensure we have a diverse set of options to meet reliability, affordability, and policy needs into the future.

The IESO will be undertaking additional analysis in order to inform a CER with emissions target that are achievable while maintaining reliability.

Read the factsheet about the IESO’s response to the CER.

Ontario's Electricity System Transformation

Ontario's Electricity System Transformation infographic driven by economic growth, decarbonization and consumer preference.

The IESO’s Role in Decarbonization

As Ontario’s electricity system operator and planner, the IESO has a particular vantage point and responsibilities in assessing the adequacy of our resources and the reliability of our supply mix. The IESO’s plans include:

  • Adapting Save on Energy incentives to better align with the needs of the system and its customers.
  • Using the Grid Innovation Fund to develop a better understanding of new technologies that can be leveraged to accelerate the adoption of energy solutions with low greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Incorporating demand scenarios into its forecasting and planning that reflect the ongoing shift to electrification and its potential impact on GHG emissions across Ontario.