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Ontario's Ministry of Energy has released its updated long-term energy plan, entitled Achieving Balance.

According to the ministry, the plan balances five principles that will guide future decisions: cost-effectiveness, reliability, clean energy, community engagement, and an emphasis on conservation and demand management before building new generation.

The ministry says that compared to the 2010 plan, Achieving Balance is expected to reduce projected cost increases by C$16 billion in the near term (2013-2017) and C$70 billion to 2030. These cost reductions will be realized even as Ontario keeps its commitment to phase out the last of its coal-fired generation by the end of 2014, the ministry notes.

The ministry reports that the long-term energy plan includes the following measures:

- Decreasing the need for new supply by implementing conservation programs and standards to offset most growth in electricity demand over the next 20 years.

- Lowering costs for consumers. Compared to the 2010 plan, residential customers can expect to pay about C$520 less over the next five years and C$3,800 less to 2030, and industrial consumers can expect to pay C$3 million less over the next five years and C$11 million less to 2030.

- Expanding demand response programs to help achieve a 10% reduction in peak demand by 2025.

- Making new financing tools available to consumers starting in 2015, including programs to incentivize energy efficient retrofits for residential properties.

- Moving ahead with nuclear refurbishment at both Darlington and Bruce generating stations, beginning in 2016.

- Extending the phase-in of wind, solar and bioenergy for three more years than estimated in the 2010 plan, with 10.7 GW online by 2021. By 2025, about half of Ontario's installed generating capacity will come from renewable sources.

- Developing a new competitive procurement process with the Ontario Power Authority for future renewable projects larger than 500 kW.

- Continuing to encourage First Nation and Metis participation in transmission and renewable energy projects.

- Issuing an annual Ontario Energy Report to update Ontarians on changing supply and demand conditions and outline the progress to date on the long-term energy plan.

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