May 14, 2007

Ontario amends CFC phaseout rules, commits to increased use of clean energy by government

The Ontario government has initiated three measures to protect the ozone layer and fulfill its in-house commitment to reducing fossil fuel use and dealing with climate change.

The province has finalized regulations to phase out chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs, a potent greenhouse gas and ozone-depleting substance) in large refrigeration equipment and chillers and to designate surplus CFCs as hazardous waste, effective in 2012.

Amendments to Ontario's Refrigerants Regulation (O Reg 189/94) will also ensure that surplus stocks of CFCs are properly handled. Completion of the CFC phaseout will promote energy conservation as industry replaces old outdated units with more efficient equipment. In concert with energy conservation incentive programs such as the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) program, the government says more than 50 megawatts (MW) in energy demand could be saved across the province.

The amendments also encourage extended producer responsibility by providing for seller take-back of CFC-containing refrigerants. "These regulations and resulting stewardship programs will ensure that surplus CFC refrigerants will be safely collected, transported and disposed," said Warren Heeley of the Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Institute of Canada (HRAI).

Ontario has been working with industry to update the regulation since 2003. The regulatory proposal was first posted on the province's environmental registry in June 2006 for a 60-day comment period. More than 400 written comments were received and taken into account in drafting the final regulation, which may be viewed on the EBR Registry, www.ebr.gov.on.ca, reference No RA06E0004.

To reduce the government's use of fossil fuels, Toronto's deep lake water cooling system will be extended to Queen's Park. The system will reduce by 90% the amount of electricity used for cooling offices in the provincial Legislature buildings. In its first year using deep water cooling, the province expects to save nearly ten million kilowatt hours (kWh)-enough energy to power approximately 1,000 homes.

Enwave's three intake pipes draw icy-cold water from 83 metres below the surface of Lake Ontario into Toronto's John Street pumping station, where heat exchangers facilitate the energy transfer between the lake water and the Enwave closed chilled water supply loop. Enwave uses only the coldness from the lake water, not the actual water, to provide a clean alternative to conventional air-conditioning for major downtown Toronto office buildings.

Adding Queen's Park as a customer of Enwave Energy's deep lake water cooling system was the catalyst that was needed to expand the network north from the Queen Street area, said Enwave president and CEO Dennis Fotinos. The government's commitment "has enabled Enwave to extend the environmental benefits of this innovative technology to more buildings than otherwise would have been possible," he added.

In addition, the Ministry of Environment's head office, located outside the Queen's Park complex, has signed on to purchase its energy from Bullfrog Power, Ontario's first 100% green electricity retailer. Bullfrog is the only provider that buys power exclusively from wind and low-impact hydro generators who meet or surpass the federal government's Environmental Choice program EcoLogo standard for renewable electricity. The company directs the power from these sources into the provincial grid.

The MOE will continue to draw electricity from the grid, using its electricity dollars to support renewable power rather than coal, nuclear, oil and gas. Switching to Bullfrog Power requires no new equipment and while its cost is slightly higher-three cents more per kWh-the MOE expects to offset this cost through additional energy efficiency and conservation measures.

The three steps bring the province closer to its goal of reducing energy consumption in government buildings by 10% by year-end 2007 and by 62 million kWh over three years. By replacing old chillers with the state-of-the-art, environmentally friendly technology, the government says it will use almost ten million kWh of electricity in the first year of operation. Over the long term, the province estimates that this initiative will save $4.5 million over the next 30 years.

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