Ontario’s new government, led by Premier Doug Ford, has announced its plan to expand natural gas access to families and businesses throughout rural and Northern Ontario.
Speaking at the 2018 International Plowing Match & Rural Expo this week, Premier Food says he plans to introduce legislation to develop a new natural gas program. If passed, the new program would encourage more private gas distributors to partner with communities to develop projects that expand access to affordable and efficient natural gas, according to the province.
The government says the proposed new program will deliver decades of benefits to potentially dozens of communities across Ontario at no additional cost to the taxpayers while keeping existing natural gas costs low.
Ontario’s farm policy group, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, welcomed the announcement, as the organization has been pushing hard for natural gas development for rural areas in the face of ever-rising energy costs.
Switching to natural gas can save an average residential customer between $800 and $2,500 a year, so the estimated cost-savings for farms and businesses is substantial. These changes would potentially enable natural gas connections for over 70 communities, connecting approximately 33,000 households, the province says.
“We heard from people across Ontario that natural gas expansion is important in order to grow businesses, create jobs and compete. By cancelling the cap-and-trade carbon tax, we have already acted to bring natural gas prices down for Ontario families and businesses. Now we are taking the next step to ensure that the benefits of natural gas expansion are shared throughout the entire province.” — Ontario Premier Doug Ford.
“We have been pushing for the need for more widespread, affordable natural gas energy across rural Ontario, so this is encouraging news for the agricultural community. Energy is one of the largest inputs on farms, and we need access to natural gas to help boost the competitiveness of rural Ontario communities, businesses and farms. And natural gas is the single most important investment that will deliver a competitive edge to continue to drive growth in rural Ontario.” — Keith Currie, president of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA).