Ontario plans to expand natural gas access to areas in the Canadian province currently without service, including those in rural, northern Ontario and First Nations communities.
Ontario is launching a natural gas grant program to support the construction of natural gas infrastructure, according to Ontario’s government website. Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne announced plans to provide a $100 million subsidy toward natural gas expansion to rural communities through the program. The province will begin taking applications for the grant program this spring.
“Increased access to natural gas in towns across the province will generate significant local investment, help businesses grow and create jobs,” says Bob Chiarelli, Ontario’s minister of infrastructure.
The Canadian Propane Association (CPA) has spoken out against Ontario’s natural gas expansion initiative. According to CPA, Ontario Energy Board experts determined in November 2016 that natural gas expansion to rural communities would not justify subsidies paid by Ontarians.
“The Natural Gas Grant Program announced by Premier Wynne flies in the face of the most basic principles of governance and economics,” says Andrea Labelle, executive director at CPA.
The new grant would put the province’s propane and natural gas companies on an uneven playing field, as natural gas companies could build their networks with $100 million of taxpayer money, CPA says. In addition, the grant would help fund liquefied natural gas services, including trucks carrying natural gas tanks along Ontario’s highways, also putting propane at a disadvantage.