The Ontario government is providing more than $68 million to expand natural gas lines in the village of Bobcaygeon in the City of Kawartha Lakes.
Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock MPP Laurie Scott announced Thursday that 3,978 homes and businesses in Bobcaygeon will be able to connect to natural gas for the first time thanks to $68,029,650 allocated through the province’s Natural Gas Expansion Program.
“Our government is continuing to deliver affordable energy by expanding natural gas pipelines to more communities,” stated Scott. “Access to natural gas will help more families and businesses find energy savings, while promoting economic development and job creation.”
City of Kawartha Lakes Mayor Andy Letham says expanding access to natural gas provides an alternative source of energy that’s “clean and affordable for residents and businesses in Bobcaygeon.”
“On behalf of council, I’d like to thank the province, and our MPP Laurie Scott, who has been a champion of helping Kawartha Lakes with the infrastructure support needed to continue to enhance services for residents,” he said. “I’m very pleased that today is another example of Kawartha Lakes working with other levels of government to enhance services in our community.”
Phase 2 of the Natural Gas Expansion Program is allocating more than $234 million to support approximately 8,750 connections in 43 rural, northern and Indigenous communities.
The Bobcaygeon project will take four years to complete with customer connections to begin in 2024.
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“As part of our government’s plan to make life more affordable, we prioritized broad distribution across Ontario to help as many homes and businesses keep the cost of energy low, support jobs and attract new investment,” said Bill Walker, associate minister of energy. “With Phase 2 of the Natural Gas Expansion program, we’re putting people first and ensuring Ontario remains open for business. This will be a game-changer for these 43 communities.”
“We’re thrilled that through Ontario’s Natural Gas Expansion Program, Enbridge Gas will bring much needed and wanted natural gas in the most affordable way to more communities across Ontario, including this one,” added Cynthia Hansen, executive vice-president and president, gas distribution and storage, Enbridge Inc.
“Natural gas is the most economic way to heat buildings and water, and we are excited to work with local officials and the community to move this project forward, so residents can benefit from the cost savings, and local businesses can be more competitive.”
Construction for projects under Phase 2 will begin as soon as this year, with all 28 expansion projects expected to be underway by the end of 2025.
The province says currently, about 3.6 million homes and 160,000 businesses in Ontario rely on natural gas. The government says the average household could save between $250 to $1,500 per year in energy costs by switching to natural gas from costlier fuel sources. Businesses are expected to save up to 30 per cent on energy costs per year.
In 2019, Global News spoke with customers in the Cambray area who weren’t happy after being charged a system expansion surcharge fee.
The fee on their bill was for $118.
At that time, Global News inquired with Enbridge about the fee and were told it’s calculated at 23 cents for every cubic metre of gas used and it would appear on customer bills monthly for the City of Kawartha Lakes pipeline extension project for up to 40 years.
Enbridge told Global News, in order to make the project economically sound, it needed to charge the fee.
“So there’s a contribution from (the city of) Kawartha Lakes, a provincial grant and the system-expansion surcharge would make the project feasible,” said Tanya Bruckmueller, spokesperson for Enbridge in response to our inquiry in 2019.
Global News asked Hansen on Thursday if the new Bobcaygeon customers would see the charge on their bills once connected.
Hansen declined to answer the question and instead referred it to one of the ministers on the call before stating “I’m not staying on for the rest of this Q and A session. Thank you.”
Instead, Walker answered our question.
“Yes there is. This is a standardized thing with any hookup that is OEB regulated,” he said.
“What I want to share is the $250 – $1,500 (in savings) anticipates those costs in there so there is significant savings and that is part of the incentive to switch from one form of heating to another. Once they have that surcharge, the rest of those savings are there for them on an annual basis.”
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