Province announces grant to bring natural gas to southern Bruce

Section: 
News

 

By Barb McKay

 

The company that is chosen to deliver natural gas to the southern Bruce region, including Kincardine, will receive up to $27.73 million to make it happen.

 

The municipalities participating in the Southern Bruce Natural Gas Project – Kincardine, Huron-Kinloss and Arran-Elderslie – jointly announced last Wednesday that the project will receive a grant of up to $27.73 million from the province.

 

“We are thrilled by this announcement,” Mayor Anne Eadie said in a statement. “In awarding such a significant grant towards the construction of the gas facilities for our three municipalities, the province has recognized and embraced the vision shown by our municipal councils over the past six years to realize the goal of bringing natural gas to our communities.”

 

Huron-Kinloss Mayor Mitch Twolan said the municipalities are now waiting on a decision from the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) about who will carry out the project.

 

“This provincial funding decision is a significant victory for our area which will drive greater economic activity and benefit every citizen with more affordable energy choices.”

 

Arran-Elderslie Mayor Paul Eagleson said it has been a long, hard road to get to this point in the project and he gives credit to the three municipal councils for working together to advance it.

 

“We are bringing much needed relief to our home owners, businesses and farms by finally obtaining access to natural gas.”

 

Kincardine CAO Sharon Chambers told The Independent last week that the reason the Ministry of Infrastructure is allocating up to $27.73 million rather than announcing a set amount is because there are two companies vying to carry out the project and each company would have asked for different funding amounts in their grant applications to the province.

 

The municipalities have chosen EPCOR as the preferred company to deliver natural gas service to the region and have signed a franchise agreement with the company. Union Gas is competing for the project and both companies have applications before the OEB.

 

“We are hopeful that we will hear soon (from the OEB) about a decision now that the funding has been announced,” Chambers said.

 

Chambers spoke with officials at EPCOR following the funding announcement and said it plans to use the grant to help offset capital costs associated with building the natural gas system. EPCOR estimates the cost to bring natural gas to the region is in the $100 million range, which it had said it would front and then recoup through consumer rates over time. The municipalities will give EPCOR a 10-year hiatus from property taxes on the lines to help reduce the burden and, in turn, EPCOR will set its rates for 10 years.

 

EPCOR’s plan to extend natural gas service to the region is to begin at Dornoch and extend lines to the Bruce Energy Centre, Kincardine, Tiverton, Chesley, Paisley, Ripley, Lurgan Beach and Lucknow.

 

Huron-Bruce MPP Lisa Thompson said last week that the announcement is great news for the municipalities and is hopeful that there will be further expansion.

 

"I am pleased to see that the Ontario government has recognized all of the efforts, over the last six years, by the municipalities of Huron-Kinloss, Kincardine, and Arran Elderslie to bring natural gas to their residents and businesses with their announcement yesterday. I commend the municipalities' strong leadership, vision, and commitment to their communities as they continuously advocated for the expansion of natural gas to this region of the province.

 

"In support, I pressed the government to increase natural gas access to the north end of Huron-Bruce so that families have the choice to heat their homes with natural gas, while businesses and farms are able to access a cost-effective alternative. Plain and simple, this is great news.”

 

Thompson added that she is looking forward to the final approvals from the OEB and seeing shovels in the ground as soon as possible.