A better way to provide affordable energy to rural customers

Dear Mr. Smith,

I have recently received notice of a consultation from Enbridge Gas who is seeking public feedback on installation of a proposed new pipeline in Selwyn where I live. The pipeline would deliver gas to 77 homes and businesses along the 8th Line between Bridgenorth and Lakefield. The Ontario government has agreed to subsidize Enbridge for approximately $1.67 million dollars to build this pipeline. This local project is part of a $234 million Natural Gas Expansion Program serving a total of 43 rural communities and 8,750 connections whose stated goal is to provide “affordable energy” to citizens. The resulting subsidy across the province is $26,285.71 per customer.

While this program might deliver lower costs to customers, we should be asking “lower compared to what?” and “at what cost to taxpayers and the environment?” And we should be asking “is there a better way?”

In January 2022, the price of gas in this service area is $.30/m3. As of today, Canada’s price on carbon adds $.08/m3, and by 2030 this will have risen to $.33/m3. According to the Enbridge Web Site, customers served by this expansion will be subject to a surcharge of $.23/m3 for 40 years. This brings the total price to $.86/m3 for these customers.  According to Enbridge’s typical customer information, this is likely over $2,000 per year in gas bills by 2030, about $600 per year more than those outside this service area, and far from affordable energy.

There is a better approach. An approach that will deliver affordable energy. An approach that does not require creating infrastructure that will still be emitting Greenhouse Gases and contributing to the climate crisis for at least 40 years.

Your government could use some of the planned subsidy of $26,285.71 per customer to help these same customers convert from the propane or oil or baseboard heat that they are using today to an Air Source Heat Pump that runs on electricity. There are Air Source Heat Pumps available today that are about the same price as a new high efficiency gas furnace and whose operating costs are comparable to a gas furnace.

You won’t need the entire subsidy to assist homeowners with the upgrade to an electric air source heat pump. You can use some of it to make enhancements to the electricity grid to support the additional load. This plan would actually deliver affordable energy to your constituents.

For a more complete description of the alternatives I strongly recommend an article from the Toronto Star by Adam Radwanski, published on June 11, 2021. I also suggest that you refer to a letter sent from industry representatives of 15 Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) companies to the Minister of the Environment on April 12, 2019 with the subject line “Increasing Ontarian’s Access to Clean and Affordable Energy Via Heat Pumps”. Their letter outlines changes to the Ontario Building codes and incentives that would enable the alternative and would result in similar cost savings for rural constituents without the damage to the environment caused by your government’s program which will lock customers into burning high GHG emitting fossil fuels for years to come.

Mr. Smith, we request and shall be grateful to receive your reply in response to our suggestions. Thank you for your attention.

4 thoughts on “A better way to provide affordable energy to rural customers”

  1. Patty, I received acknowledgement that the letter was received. They say they will get back to me. Did you see that it was printed in Friday’s Lakefield Herald?

  2. So what have you heard from MPP Smith…and thanks for writing – I had no idea about any of this….Patty Macdonald

  3. Good letter, Guy. I hope you at least get a reply. Maybe this will be an issue in the provincial election.
    sheila nh

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