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It was founded in 1970 as a sister project of Pollution Probe and incorporated in 1980 as Energy Probe Research Foundation (EPRF), which describes itself as "one of Canada's largest independent think tanks, with 17 public policy researchers". It focuses on the economic, environmental and social impacts of the use and production of energy. Financial Post columnist Lawrence Solomon was one of the co-founders of EPRF in 1980. University of Toronto Professor Clifford Orwin was noted as being on the foundation's board in 2005, where he was joined by columnists Margaret Wente and Andrew Coyne.
Energy Probe led the opposition to Ontario Hydro's nuclear expansion plans during the 1970s and 80s. Its plans to break up Ontario Hydro's monopoly and end support for nuclear power were endorsed in 1984 by the leaders of the Ontario Liberal Party and the Ontario New Democratic Party, the two opposition parties at that time. Energy Probe argued that privatization of the nuclear power plants in Ontario would have forced them to buy insurance on the private market, making them economically unviable, inevitably leading to their shut down. (The same argument was subsequently adopted by Greenpeace in the United Kingdom when they supported Margaret Thatcher's efforts to privatize government enterprises.) Political scientist Laurie Adkin described Energy Probe's approach as "ecocapitalist". Later, the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario, led by Mike Harris, formally adopted Energy Probe's positions in its Common Sense Revolution. Under this model, the grid would be operated as a separate regulated entity while the generating units would operate in a competitive marketplace.
In 1978, before its incorporation, Energy Probe capitalized on the Three Mile Island accident, and acquired notoriety by printing up brochures on the morning the accident occurred. By the afternoon, these brochures, entitled, "It's no longer just a movie," were being distributed to theater goers as they left the Jane Fonda movie, The China Syndrome.
Stephen Dale, in his book McLuhan's children: the Greenpeace message and the media, praised Energy Probe for its stance on utility regulation whilst criticizing it for having turned away from its democratic roots to "embrace the discipline of the marketplace". Keith Stewart, an environmental policy scientist affiliated with the Toronto Environmental Alliance, described Energy Probe as the Canadian component of a "small but vocal neo-liberal wing of the environmental movement aggressively championing a pro-market, anti-state agenda", and likened it with US Natural Resources Defense Council, which according to Keith champions "free-market environmentalism". The book Rescuing Canada's right: blueprint for a conservative revolution describes two divisions of EPRF—Energy Probe and Environment Probe—as among the few environmental advocacy organizations that "promote a vision for the environment that is more in line with Opportunity Conservative principles, although these groups would probably not call themselves conservative" and which "don't take knee-jerk leftist positions", but ascribes the two EPRF divisions as second place in this niche, overshadowed by Ducks Unlimited.
Additional divisions within Energy Probe are: Urban Renaissance Institute, Probe International, Environment Probe, Environmental Bureau of Investigation, and the Consumer Policy Institute.
- Paehlke, R. (ed.) (1995). Conservation and Environmentalism: an encyclopaedia. Taylor & Francis.
- McDonald, Bob (Sep 2004). "Nuclear Waste - Burying a Problem, or a Solution?". CBC News. Archived from the original on March 24, 2009. Retrieved 2009-09-26.
- Energy Probe. "About us". Retrieved 2009-09-26.
- Dewar, E. (1995). Cloak of green: The links between key environmental groups, government and big business. James Lorimer & Company Ltd.
- EPRF 'About Us' web page. Retrieved on 18 October 2011.
- Tasha Kheiriddin; Adam Daifallah (2005). Rescuing Canada's right: blueprint for a conservative revolution. John Wiley & Sons. p. 236. ISBN 978-0-470-83692-7.
- Solomon, L. (1982). Breaking up Ontario Hydro's monopoly. Toronto: Energy Probe. pp. 66–70.
- Dale, S. (1996). McLuhan's children: the Greenpeace message and the media. Between the Lines.
Greenpeace took the same approach to the nuclear power industry in Britain, casting the organisation as an unlikely ideological ally of Margaret Thatcher in her campaign to privatize government enterprises.
- O'Connor, R. (Jul 2009). ""It's no longer a movie": Three Mile Island, The China Syndrome, and Anti-Nuclear Activism in Canada". Retrieved 2009-09-26.
- Keith Stewart (2001). "Avoiding the tragedy of the commons: greening governance through the market of the public domain". In Daniel Drache. The market or the public domain?: global governance and the asymmetry of power. Routledge. pp. 224 (statements) and xii (for Keith's affiliation). ISBN 978-0-415-25470-0.
- Tasha Kheiriddin; Adam Daifallah (2005). Rescuing Canada's right: blueprint for a conservative revolution. John Wiley & Sons. pp. 235–236. ISBN 978-0-470-83692-7.
- O'Connor, Ryan (31 January 2017). "The Strange Story Behind Canada's Controversial 'Eco-Capitalist' Organization". Vice News. Retrieved 3 February 2017.