Published: November 30, 2016
BY JENNIFER PARSONS
One regional leader was expressing displeasure with the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) last week after the provincial energy regulator released its report related to proceeding with community expansions.
Kenora Mayor David Canfield classified his reaction to the report as “outraged”, noting the OEB rejected a call from the Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association (NOMA) that expansion costs be shared across the entire ratepayer base of the province.
“We made the case that when the natural gas system was first developed across Southern Ontario and parts of the North that all of the rate payers contributed to the cost of creating the existing network,” said Canfield of the efforts of the NOMA alongside the Northwestern Ontario Associated Chambers of Commerce to lobby the OEB earlier this year.
“We also argued that it was essential that Northern and rural communities currently without natural gas services should now be treated the same way in order that they can access lower cost energy.”
In their submission, the NOACC Coalition pointed to the high cost of heating homes, businesses and institutions in the many communities across the North who rely on electricity, propane or fuel oil for their heating as a reason for finding an affordable way of delivering natural gas to their communities.
On Nov. 17 the OEB pointed to rural municipalities as a possible funder of expansion projects.
“The OEB does not consider it appropriate or necessary to subsidize projects that result in sufficient savings to customers to cover the costs of the projects. What is required is a method of overcoming the upfront investment hurdle,” noted the report.
Canfield called on members of the Energy Board to hold further hearings in Northern Ontario.
“Doesn’t the OEB understand that property taxes in Northwestern Ontario communities are already at a level that makes it difficult for many people to remain in their homes and to now state that financially challenged towns could contribute to bringing natural gas into their community is beyond belief.”