Ontario’s Associate Minister of Energy Bill Walker announced that the government is expanding access to natural gas to more families and businesses throughout rural, northern Ontario and Indigenous communities.
The Ontario Energy Board (OEB) will begin the process of collecting information about natural gas expansion opportunities across Ontario and develop a report on eligible projects for the ministry in early 2020. The OEB will deliver its report to the government by August 2020, after which the government will make a final decision on future expansion projects eligible to receive support through the government’s Natural Gas Expansion Program.
“Natural gas is a safe, reliable and lower-cost heating fuel that will lead to cheaper home heating costs for families and more investment by businesses throughout the province,” said Walker. “We’re putting more money back in people’s pockets and making communities more attractive for job creation and new business growth. This sends a clear message that Ontario is open for business.”
“Our government made a commitment to reduce energy costs and expand access to natural gas to underserved parts of Ontario,” said Greg Rickford, Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines. “By expanding access to natural gas, our government is making life more affordable for businesses and families in rural, northern and Indigenous communities.”
“This is a huge win for Bruce County and for rural, northern and Indigenous communities throughout Ontario, said Huron-Bruce MPP Lisa Thompson. “The average household switching to natural gas could save up to $2,500 a year in energy costs.”
The Natural Gas Expansion Program was created to help extend access to natural gas to unserved communities across the province, providing access to thousands of households and businesses to the clean and affordable fuel they deserve. Nine projects were selected under the first phase of the program, with construction well underway in Southern Bruce, Chatham-Kent and the Chippewas of the Thames First Nation.
Expanding access to natural gas to rural, northern, and Indigenous communities is part of the government’s plan to create a more competitive business environment and make life more affordable for Ontarians.
The Natural Gas Expansion Program will allocate approximately $130 million to support new natural gas expansion projects over a three-year period from 2021 to 2023. In Chatham-Kent, it is estimated that the additional natural gas capacity could create up to 1,400 jobs in the greenhouse industry alone.
Since its in launch in 2019, the Natural Gas Expansion Program has supported nine projects that are expected to connect over 9,000 customers in 16 communities.