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Energy Affordability and Ontario Energy Board Decision

April 9, 2024 | Charles Lin

Image by Pixelharvester from Pixabay

Image by Pixelharvester from Pixabay

The OEB (Ontario Energy Board) is Ontario’s independent energy regulator, and oversees the operation of energy companies to ensure the public interest is served.

Enbridge Gas is Canada’s largest natural gas utility, serving about 75% of Ontario’s population. In December 2023, OEB issued a decision to remove the subsidy to Enbridge Gas for the costs of connecting new customers to the gas system. This subsidy has up to now been provided by existing customers through increased gas rates.

The OEB decision incentivizes developers to consider greener and more economical heating and cooling alternatives, such as electric heat pumps. This reduces carbon emissions and helps Ontario to reach it’s net zero goals.

The day after the OEB decision in December 2023, Ontario’s Energy Minister (Todd Smith) said he would introduce legislation to reverse it, citing the decision would increase costs for new homes using gas and would slow the construction of new homes.

Ending the subsidy would not increase the price of new homes according to energy experts, considering both the purchase of the home and the ongoing heating and cooling costs. In fact, for those who opt to go with a heat pump, overall costs are likely even lower. This also reduces carbon emissions.

The Ontario government has launched Bill 165 to reverse the OEB decision. The Bill is making its way through the Ontario Legislative Assembly. Enbridge has also appealed the OEB decision with Ontario’s Divisional Court.

The OEB made its decision based on detailed evidence and a thorough review process. Bill 165 also diminishes OEB’s independence, and reduces the transparency and accountability of costing decisions.

Environmental and community groups have indicated support for OEB’s decision and opposition to Bill 165. Environmental Defence Canada has written Minister Todd indicating its support of the OEB decision and asking the Minister to reconsider the plan to overrule the decision.

Environmental Defence, together with the community groups Ontario Emergency Campaign, Seniors for Climate Action Now, Hamilton 350, Climate Fast, will host a webinar on April 10, 2024 to discuss Bill 165 and energy affordability, and action by concerned citizens.

Learn more: Environmental Defence webinar on April 10

Charles Lin

Charles is a retired atmospheric scientist based in Toronto. He stays busy as founder and lead of ImpactNetZero, keeping healthy in mind and body, and reading stories to his two grandchildren.

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