Ontario boosts energy-efficiency programs, including paying customers to run A/C less

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Ontario is putting an additional $342 million toward energy efficiency programs, including paying some customers to run their air conditioning less on hot summer days.

Energy Minister Todd Smith had asked the Independent Electricity System Operator to suggest new conservation initiatives and he is announcing today that he is accepting its recommendations.

Smith says the expanded programs, expected to be rolled out starting next spring, will save enough electricity by 2025 to power about 130,000 homes a year.

The programs includes one in which households with central air conditioning and a smart thermostat can volunteer to allow the IESO to reduce their cooling load in order to reduce peak demand in the summer, in exchange for getting paid an unspecified incentive.

They also include support for greenhouses in southwest Ontario, including incentives to install LED lighting or resources such as solar generation or battery storage, as well as enhancements to the Save On Energy Retrofit Program.

The government says over a lifespan of up to 20 years, the programs will result in three million tonnes of greenhouse gas emission reductions.