If there was a need for any further evidence that the Ford government supports big business over the needs of those who elected them, here is yet another example.
Enbridge Gas had applied to the Ontario Energy Board, the OEB, to increase consumer gas costs in order to cover the cost of the expansion of their natural gas system. The OEB ruled, rightly, in my opinion, that developers, not ratepayers, should bear the cost of Enbridge gas expansion. In keeping with their ideology of supporting big business over consumers, the Doug Ford government is pledging to override this decision.
The OEB found that Enbridge’s plan for a multibillion dollar gas grid expansion “is not responsive to the energy transition, and increases the risk of stranded or underutilized assets”. No prizes for guessing who pays for the latter. The OEB also said that gas connections must be paid for immediately, some $4,400 per unit, rather than spread the cost over 40 years, a sum to be collected from residents through rate increases.
A group of environmental organizations and concerned Ontario residents filed a complaint with the Competition Bureau that accuses Enbridge of falsely claiming gas as the most cost-effective way to heat homes as part of its campaign to expand the gas grid. The complaint takes aim at claims made in a handful of Ontario communities, including that “switching to natural gas could save you up to 52% per year”, and that gas is “the most affordable way to run appliances”. Their complaint included analysis showing that customers in the communities that Enbridge is expanding into could expect to save $20,000 by switching to heat pumps instead of signing up with Enbridge.
An energy strategist with Greenpeace Canada said: “The OEB is recognizing that the energy transition is real, and they are trying to protect consumers from bad decisions by gas companies. The Ford government is siding with property developers and gas companies to leave you and me on the hook for the cost and to continue pretending that climate change isn’t going to force us to change business as usual”.
Energy minister Todd Smith’s pledge to reverse the Board’s decision has given Enbridge Gas a very expensive Christmas present, but it is the rest of us who will be footing the bill. Was it ever thus.
Colin Creasey, Kemptville