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A decision of the Commission on ;éenergy will be canceled

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The Energy Commission wanted the cost of gas connections to new homes to be fully charged upfront. (Archive photo)

Radio-Canada

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The Minister of Energy followed up on Thursday on a decision announced in the fall and presented a bill that reverses a decision regarding the connection of new homes to the natural gas network. This is a step backwards in the eyes of opposition parties and groups who want Ontario to move away from fossil fuels in favor of “greener” options.

The Ontario Energy Board (OEB), an independent regulator, ruled before Christmas that natural gas supplier Enbridge must charge the full cost of connection up front, rather than spread out over a period of 40 years. This approach would increase the price of new homes.

Reversal of this decision will prevent the addition of $4,400, on average, to the price of new homes , or that tens of thousands of dollars are added to the price of a house in rural Ontario, assures the government in a press release.

Once passed, the bill will give the province the power to overturn the Energy Commission's decision, reducing the amortization period to 40 years and to order the regulatory body to hold hearings on any matter of public interest.

The last thing we want to do is intervene, but we are thinking of the interests of the people of Ontario, defended Minister Smith.

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The province has set a goal of having 1.5 million new homes built in 10 years. “The last thing we want is to see the price of new homes go up,” he said.

Des Environmental groups believed the commission's decision was a major victory and would have encouraged the use of less polluting heating and cooling equipment, such as heat pumps, which would have benefited consumers.

“We should choose the cleanest and least expensive options for heating and cooling new homes,” wrote Keith Stewart of Greenpeace Canada. And this even if it displeases the Ford government's friends at Enbridge and real estate developers.

The NDP energy critic thinks that The government's decision to intervene in the jurisdiction of the Energy Commission, an independent body, sets a dangerous precedent.

Peter Tabuns also believes that it will have repercussions on consumers, because Enbridge will want to increase its rates to finance its investment projects.

The regulatory body said no, we will not allow you to charge existing customers for the expansion of your network, he recalls. He estimates the impact could reach $300 per subscriber over the next four years.

Green Leader Mike Schreiner believes Enbridge will be the only one to benefit from the government's decision. Greens support the OEB's decision to help Ontarians transition away from fossil fuels and choose cleaner, more economical energy sources.

With information from The Canadian Press

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