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Ontario looks to pass gas to unserviced communities

Ontario Energy Board searching for natural gas network expansion projects
Red Lake nat gas pipeline

The Ontario government is scoping out natural gas expansion opportunities in rural, Northern and Indigenous communities.

The Ontario Energy Board (OEB) has been instructed to begin collecting information about potential projects. Their report should be in the government’s hands by August.

It’ll guide the decision-making in selecting those projects deemed eligible to receive funding support under the Natural Gas Expansion Program.

The Ford government created the program in 2018 and launched it last July to deliver natural gas to unserviced communities.

The program will allocate $130 million over a three-year period – from 2021 to 2023 – to support new gas projects.

Nine projects serving 16 communities were selected in the first phase of the program. Construction is underway on projects in Chatham-Kent, Southern Bruce, the Chippewas of the Thames First Nation and Scugog Island.

The Chatham-Kent project is looked to be beneficial to that area’s greenhouse industry where it could create as many as 1,400 jobs.

"Our government made a commitment to reduce energy costs and expand access to natural gas to underserved parts of Ontario," said Energy, Northern Development and Mines Minister Greg Rickford in a Dec 17 news release.

"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."