By Jennifer Thurbide
Union Gas Limited officials swarmed the Cochenour Arena last week in an effort to provide district residents with further information on the new service alternative. Presenting to more than 200 people between June 27th and 28th, District Manager for the Northwest Region Ian Ross said the approaching natural gas pipeline will benefit residents directly in their pocket books.
“Natural gas is very affordable. It is actually cheaper now than it was three years ago,” said Ross while discussing the price of the commodity. “Based on my calculations [the cost] is 50 per cent less than it was 10 years ago. It is all about supply and demand and right now the supply is huge so the price is low and it is going to be low for a long time to come.” Ross says the company adjusts their rates quarterly based on the cost of transportation and commodity prices.
“I think in northwestern Ontario in the last year the rate has gone down about $90 a year. The average price in northwestern Ontario in July 2012 we are looking at about $900 a year for natural gas – based on an average family of four [and] average home heating cost,” he furthered.
Taking questions from the audience, topics covered during the hour-long presentation included changes in rates, conversion of existing heating systems and cost and process for installing the service on private property. In relation to installation costs, residents were told Union Gas will pay for the first 30 metres of the line that will run onto private property with the home owner being responsible for the cost of any further distance.
Additionally, Ross confirmed gas line pipe installation in Balmertown and Cochenour is finishing up and crews will be moving into Red Lake in the coming weeks.
Also on hand to answer questions for those in attendance were three heating contractors which Ross says will be the ones to provide information on the cost of converting home services and who will make applications for homeowners to receive the service. Incentive pricing is being offered to entice potential customers including a $200 discount as a signing bonus and a further $50 off for going with paperless billing.
According to maps provided by the utility at the open house event most residents in Balmertown, Cochenour and Red Lake will have the option of receiving the service, however, there are still fringe areas that are under consideration. Currently in Red Lake the gas line will run down Forestry Road to the Water Treatment Plant and will extend only partially into the Kelson’s Farm subdivision. Waterfront Drive off Howey Street is also under consideration.
Cochenour Cresent will be receiving the service but not McMarmac residents and all of Balmertown will have access to the service.
Those wishing to review the service area are encouraged to check out the Union Gas Limited website www.uniongas.com/redlake or visit the Red Lake office located at Suite 206 in Discovery Plaza. The full Union Gas presentation crew will be back in Red Lake on July 11th and 12th for further presentations.
Pictured above: Ian Ross of Union Gas Limited presents to residents during the afternoon of June 28, 2012. Photo by J. Thurbide