NOMA OUTRAGED BY OEB DECISION #LSN_Economy
THUNDER BAY, ON -- Kenora, ON --- November 18, 2016 – :(LSN) Kenora Mayor David Canfield, President of the Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association reacted today with outrage after learning that the Ontario Energy Board has decided that any community that wants to get natural gas service brought to their homes and businesses will have to pay 100% of the cost of the expansion.
The OEB announced late Thursday that it had rejected the call of NOMA and the Northwestern Ontario Associated Chambers of Commerce that expansion costs should be shared across the entire rate payer base of the Province. The voice of the Northwest was expressed by what was classified as the NOACC Coalition and was supported by independent actions including the Municipality of Sioux Lookout and the Northshore of Lake Superior energy consortium.
“We made the case that when the natural gas system was first developed across Southern Ontario and parts of the North that all of the rate payers contributed to the cost of creating the existing network. We also argued that it was essential that Northern and rural communities currently without natural gas services should now be treated the same way in order that they can access lower cost energy” said Canfield.
In their submission, the NOACC Coalition pointed to the high cost of heating homes, businesses and institutions in the many communities across the North who rely on electricity, propane or fuel oil for their heating as a reason for finding an affordable way of delivering natural gas to their communities. The OEB was told that “Fuel oil is 14 times more expensive and electricity is 27 times more expensive than natural gas to generate the same amount of heat in an area of the province where long periods of minus 20 or lower temperatures occur.”
The NOMA President also expressed frustration that as part of the OEB decision it was suggested that municipalities could also contribute to the cost of expansion. “Doesn’t the OEB understand that property taxes in Northwestern Ontario Communities are already at a level that makes it difficult for many people to remain in their homes and to now state that financially challenged towns could contribute to bringing natural gas into their community is beyond belief.”
Canfield has called on the Minister of Energy to issue a directive to the Ontario Energy Board to revisit the decision and to hold further hearings in Northern Ontario communities such as Sioux Lookout, Schreiber, Terrace Bay, Manitouwadge and Armstrong so that they can hear firsthand what the impact of such a policy would be.