THE VOICE OF ONTARIO'S FRUIT, VEGETABLE
AND GREENHOUSE PRODUCERS FOROVER 150 YEARS

OFVGA Response: Long Term Energy Plan

Re: Planning Ontario's Energy Future: A Discussion Guide to Start the

Conversation (EBR Registry Number: 012-8840)

The Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers’ Association (OFVGA) is the umbrella organization for the province’s fruit and vegetable farmers representing 27 different grower groups. OFVGA would like to thank you for the opportunity to provide comment on the Planning Ontario's Energy Future: A Discussion Guide to Start the Conversation consultation.

Local food security is important for a sustainable and healthy Ontario. In order to successfully achieve this, farmers need to be able to have access to reliable and affordable electricity and natural gas. OFVGA would like to present the following comments to support Ontario’s Long-Term Energy Plan (LTEP):

The case for a farm and / or industrial electricity class Ontario farmers are faced with rising on-farm energy costs. OFVGA asks the province to implement a farm and / or industrial class – an electrical rate comparable to neighboring jurisdictions to maintain the sustainability and competiveness of farming and the availability of local food. OFVGA recognizes that it is difficult to compare Ontario to other areas, as there are numerous factors to take into consideration such as service fees as one example. Most farmers do not have the flexibility to curtail energy use during peak demand.

Therefore, smart meters do not make sense. For example, farmers who have on-farm cold storage units or packing warehouses require 24-hour electrical uses in order to maintain food production capacity. For this reason, a flat rate electricity class would be more appropriate. It is time that a farm and / or industrial electrical class be considered to ensure that family farms in Ontario remain viable to produce local food.

The case for a farm and / or industrial electricity class

Ontario farmers are faced with rising on-farm energy costs. OFVGA asks the province to implement a farm and / or industrial class – an electrical rate comparable to neighboring jurisdictions to maintain the sustainability and competiveness of farming and the availability of local food. OFVGA recognizes that it is difficult to compare Ontario to other areas, as there are numerous factors to take into consideration such as service fees as one example.

Most farmers do not have the flexibility to curtail energy use during peak demand. Therefore, smart meters do not make sense. For example, farmers who have on-farm cold storage units or packing warehouses require 24-hour electrical uses in order to maintain food production capacity. For this reason, a flat rate electricity class would be more appropriate. It is time that a farm and / or industrial electrical class be considered to ensure that family farms in Ontario remain viable to produce local food.

Support for rural infrastructure

OFVGA is supportive of the LTEP’s approach to energy diversity. For example, natural gas offers a more competitive energy option for the horticultural industry and the farming sector as a whole. According to the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, natural gas access to rural Ontario could save farmers and businesses more than $1 billion annually in energy costs. OFVGA looks forward to working with the Ministry of Energy to fully understand the implications of the recent Ontario Energy Board ruling about the aid-in-construction required to bring natural gas to rural Ontario. In addition, by improving natural gas access it opens the door to the implementation of combined heat and power (CHP) for both energy conservation and for dispatchable generation.

For example, this type of system would be ideal for greenhouse growers whose energy costs account for one-third of their operating expenses. Lastly, OFVGA asks that the government support initiatives that explore the potential for micro-grids to deliver regional electricity efficiently in both rural and underserviced areas. This transition represents a fundamental shift in the way energy is managed within a community and Ontario’s farmers will require support to make this leap.

Conclusion

The LTEP should take into consideration the unique challenges faced by the horticultural sector and the agricultural industry. In 2013 the Premier Kathleen Wynne challenged the agri-food industry to double its annual growth rate and create 120,000 jobs by the year 2020. We are a long ways off from this target, though we recognize there is room for growth within the fruit and vegetable industry in Ontario. The creation of an energy policy that helps enable farmers to reach this target through reliable, affordable energy will be key.