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Washago part of province's natural gas expansion plan

Under the plan unveiled today, 723 Washago homes and businesses will be connected to natural gas at a cost of $19.2 million
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Ontario Associate Energy Minister Bill Walker, top right, joined Premier Doug Ford and representatives from Enbridge and Epcor Utilities for Wednesday's announcement.

Natural gas is coming to Washago.

Ontario’s plan to further expand natural gas availability includes the Severn Township municipality and East Gwillimbury.

During a virtual announcement this morning, Associate Energy Minister Bill Walker unveiled a list of 43 rural, northern and Indigenous communities that will be part of the province’s second phase of natural gas expansion.

Under the plan, the province will work with Enbridge Gas Inc. to connect 723 Washago homes and businesses with natural gas at a cost of $19.2 million.

In East Gwillimbury, meanwhile, the province expects to bring natural gas to 422 homes and businesses in partnership with Enbridge for $8.4 million.

Overall, the province will allocate more than $234 million to support 28 projects across Ontario and create 8,750 new customer connections.

“We want to have all the projects rolling by 2025 with shovels in the ground as soon as we can,” Walker said during a video conference with Premier Doug Ford and representatives from Enbridge and Epcor Utilities, which is handling the service expansion in Brockton.

Ford said it’s important to provide natural gas to the entire province while delivering on his government’s promise to “to deliver affordable energy and expand natural gas pipelines to more communities, while at the same time improving economic development and creating thousands of new jobs.”

Simcoe North MPP Jill Dunlop agreed.

“Our government is making good on its promise to deliver affordable energy and expand natural gas pipelines to more communities,” Dunlop said in a news release. “Access to natural gas will help more families and businesses find energy savings, while promoting economic development and job creation across
Simcoe North.”

Walker said natural gas offers a cheaper energy alternative to heating oil and other sources with the average residential customer saving between $250 and $1,500 a year through gas.

“Families will once again have more money in their back pockets,” Walker said. “Homeowners can save up to 50% (of heating/cooling costs each year) with 30% in savings for businesses.” 

Walker, who noted the project’s second phase attracted 210 proposals, said the province is also looking forward to the project’s third phase at a later date.

“We’ve seen an overwhelming response from across Ontario,” Walker said, adding the government also recognizes the importance of helping Indigenous communities tap into natural gas. “We’re going to help every single community that doesn’t (have natural gas).”

Two expansion projects will directly benefit Indigenous communities, specifically the Red Rock First Nation and the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte First Nation.

The projects are also expected to create close to 5,000 jobs.

“We’re sending a clear message that Ontario is open for business,” Walker said. “As part of our government’s plan to make life more affordable, we prioritized broad distribution across Ontario to help as many homes and businesses keep the cost of energy low, support jobs and attract new investment. This will be a game-changer for these 43 communities.”

Since its launch in 2019, phase one of the program has supported projects that are forecast to connect over 9,000 customers, in 16 communities, to natural gas. Both phase one and two projects are funded through a $1-per-month charge to existing natural gas customers.

"Natural gas is a reliable and affordable source of energy for households and businesses across the province, and it is currently the only resource with enough flexibility and capacity to meet peak demand periods year-round. We are pleased to see the Ontario government move forward with the expansion of natural gas to ensure businesses can continue operating throughout economic recovery and beyond."

In a release, Ontario Chamber of Commerce president Rocco Rossi said natural gas is a reliable and affordable source of energy for households and businesses across the province, and is currently the only resource with enough flexibility and capacity to meet peak demand periods year-round.

"We are pleased to see the Ontario government move forward with the expansion of natural gas to ensure businesses can continue operating throughout economic recovery and beyond," he said.

Added Ontario Federation of Agriculture president Peggy Brekveld in a release: "Natural gas access is vital to farms and rural businesses, providing reliable, affordable energy options with the potential to drastically boost businesses opportunities by significantly lowering energy costs."



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Andrew Philips

About the Author: Andrew Philips

Community Editor Andrew Philips is a multiple award-winning journalist whose writing has appeared in some of the country‚Äôs most respected news outlets. Originally from Midland, Philips returned to the area from Québec City a decade ago.
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