Municipalities urge province to speed up natural gas regulatory process

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The municipalities of Kincardine, Huron-Kinloss and Arran-Elderslie are calling on the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) to make a decision in order to bring natural gas service to the region.

The three municipalities jointly submitted a letter to the OEB on Oct. 13 indicating their support for EPCOR’s Common Infrastructure Plan to provide natural gas service. The municipalities noted that they have been working with EPCOR for the past six years to achieve natural gas for local residents, businesses and farms.

“This time-consuming and resource intensive initiative continues to be critically important to the future well-being and prosperity of our region,” the mayors stated. “This collective work also represents a powerful example of how small municipalities can effectively and co-operatively work together to achieve creative solutions to benefit their communities through providing access to lower cost energy alternatives.”

The OEB instructed both EPCOR and Union Gas to submit CIPs this month. The board held a hearing on Aug. 2 to discuss issues with the CIP such as permissible rate adjustments, inflation costs and treatment of capital costs. In their submissions the two companiesare expected to provide details on infrastructure routes and engineering, communities to be serviced, construction schedule forecast, customer attachments forecast, inflation costs, service levels, depreciation rates, tax rates and royalty payments to municipalities.

The mayors, in their letter to the OEB, stressed that EPCOR has committed to extending natural gas service to all the communities within their municipalities and has also expressed interest in devising a plan to carry out municipal infrastructure upgrades that are needed while natural gas line construction is being done as a way to reduce costs.

“We strongly encourage the OEB to make a speedy determination in this matter in order to conclude the regulatory process within a reasonable timeline,” the mayors said, referring to the CIP review, “so that construction and operation of the new natural gas services system and services can be provided to our citizens and communities as soon as possible.”