Ontario Premier Doug Ford said the province will expand natural gas access for homes and businesses in rural Ontario.
Ford made the announcement Sept. 18 at the International Plowing Match & Rural Expo just outside Pain Court.
The expansion efforts will involve an innovative partnership with local communities and the private sector.
“We heard from people across Ontario that natural gas expansion is important in order to grow businesses, create jobs and compete,” said Ford in a media release. “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.”
The government will introduce legislation to develop the new natural gas program. According to the Ford government, under the previous government’s restrictions, private sector companies were limited from participating in natural gas expansion, portions of which were instead managed by a taxpayer-funded 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.
The proposed new program would deliver decades of benefits to potentially dozens of communities across Ontario at no additional costs to the taxpayers while keeping existing natural gas costs low, the province said.
“Expanding natural gas will make Ontario communities more attractive for job creation and new businesses,” said Monte McNaughton, Minister of Infrastructure, and MPP for Lambton-Kent-Middlesex. “This is part of our government’s plan to bring quality jobs back to Ontario and to send the clear message that Ontario is Open for Business.”
“The decision to extend natural gas services will support future housing supply and choice in rural and northern communities while providing home owners and businesses with an affordable and reliable heating option that will keep their everyday costs down,” said Joe Vaccaro, CEO of the Ontario Home Builders’ Association.
This announcement builds on the government’s work to stand up for the people of Ontario by removing the carbon tax from natural gas bills, saving families about $80 a year and small businesses about $285 a year.
Swithcing to natural gas can save an average residential customer between $800 and $2,500 a year.
Currently, about 3.5 million homes and 130,000 businesses in Ontario use natural gas.
These changes would potentially enable natural gas connections for over 70 communities, connecting approximately 33,000 households.