As a cleaner, affordable option than most other fossil fuels, natural gas generates fewer harmful emissions, making it a better solution for preserving the atmosphere. In the farming community, access to natural gas can significantly reduce the cost of operations and energy bills for rural areas.
In fact, with access to more natural gas, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture recently suggested that the energy savings for Ontario’s farms would equal up to $200 million per year. Long advocating for alternative fossil fuels, the OFA announced it is pleased with the progress the government has made to remove barriers that have limited the accessibility of natural gas to rural farming areas.
Keith Currie, President of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) commented, “Energy is one of the largest inputs on farms, and we need access to natural gas to help boost the competitiveness of rural Ontario communities, businesses and farms. And natural gas is the single most important investment that will deliver a competitive edge to continue to drive growth in rural Ontario.”
In July, the Ontario government launched The Natural Gas Expansion Support Program to encourage communities to partner with gas distributors and extend services. Under the program, the government is committed to expanding Ontario natural gas access to thousands of households and businesses across the province in Ontario’s northern, rural and Indigenous communities.
As a result of The Natural Gas Expansion Support Program, four natural gas expansion projects are currently underway in the following communities:
- Chatham-Kent – construction began in July 2019
- Southern Bruce – construction began in July 2019
- Chippewas of the Thames First Nation – construction began in September 2019
- Scugog Island – construction expected to begin late fall 2019
With natural gas access now a priority, rural and Indigenous communities are using a customer rate subsidy to make natural gas infrastructure expansion more attainable. A $1 customer charge has been added to residential gas bills in Ontario and the money will be used to fund more natural gas expansion projects.
Today, only 20% of rural Ontario is serviced with clean, abundant and affordable natural gas. With the new government incentives implemented and a long-term expansion plan in place, natural gas will hopefully be accessible to every location in Ontario in the near future.