In Canada, Union Gas Ltd. has filed an application with the Ontario Energy Board (OEB), seeking regulatory flexibility for extending natural gas service, which would provide a framework to allow an expansion of its system to deliver affordable energy and annual savings for homeowners and businesses in up to 30 new rural and First Nations communities.
The provincial government, in its 2015 budget announcement, committed to expanding natural gas to rural communities through a new $200 million Natural Gas Access Loan and a $30 million Natural Gas Economic Development Grant, currently slated for fiscal 2017.
Natural gas costs less than electricity, propane, or oil. However, under the current regulatory framework, the cost to expand the natural gas system to these rural and First Nations communities is not workable. In February, the OEB invited interested parties to submit proposed forms of regulatory flexibility that would support expansion into rural communities that have no access to natural gas.
"Bringing natural gas to rural communities will enhance the quality of life and prosperity for the citizens of those communities," said Steve Baker, president of Union Gas. "Natural gas prices have declined dramatically in the past five years due to the discovery of abundant new supplies, and are lower today than they were 10 years ago. In fact, over the past two winters, homeowners have saved up to $2,200 a year by using natural gas rather than electricity, oil, or propane for heat and hot water."
Union Gas is also seeking approval to initially apply this regulatory flexibility to five specific expansion projects serving six rural communities in 2016. The communities included in the Union Gas expansion application for 2016 are:
- Lambton Shores/Kettle and Stony Point First Nation
- Prince Township
- Walpole Island First Nation
- Delaware Nation at Moraviantown
Union Gas Ltd. is a Canadian natural gas storage, transmission, and distribution company based in Ontario. The distribution business serves about 1.4 million residential, commercial, and industrial customers in more than 400 communities across northern, southwestern, and eastern Ontario. Union Gas is a Spectra Energy (NYSE: SE) company with assets of $7 billion and approximately 2,200 employees.