$100M Ontario natural gas grant does little for rural customers already served by clean, affordable propane

TORONTO, Jan. 31, 2017 /CNW/ - Superior Propane, Canada's largest propane provider, expressed disappointment at the announcement of a $100 million Natural Gas Grant Program that hopes to subsidize natural gas expansion to Ontario communities where clean, affordable propane is already available. 

The new grant program will take funds previously earmarked for rural infrastructure programs and spend these taxpayer dollars on natural gas pipeline expansions into a small number of rural municipalities, leaving others under-served and creating an even less balanced economic playing field.  It may in fact only benefit a small few; the majority of rural Ontarians still would not have access to a natural gas footprint due to low population density and the expense of building distribution infrastructure in local geography.

While the cost of natural gas at the commodity level currently appears favourable for consumers, the high cost of building distribution infrastructure and connecting customers in rural areas has been proven to be uneconomic.  Recent efforts by natural gas companies to compel existing consumers to fund this expansion through cross subsidization have been appropriately rejected by experts at the Ontario Energy Board.  The announcement today simply provides a different and equally problematic vehicle for using taxpayer's money to fund uneconomic natural gas line expansion which will benefit a small group of customers.

Electricity for heating remains one of the highest costs for a rural homeowner in Ontario.  If the province wants to provide subsidies for affordable, clean sources of energy, it should provide similar incentives for customers to convert their heating systems from oil and electricity to propane as this would ensure benefits could flow to all rural customers. Consumers should be able to choose alternatives to natural gas with equal access to funding.  Low emission propane is readily available in rural and remote areas today, has a comparable carbon footprint to natural gas and requires no major infrastructure investment to reach people's homes. 

"This announcement does little to address the rising energy costs for rural Ontarians and eliminates the level playing field for comparable energies like propane," said Superior Propane President Greg McCamus.  "We remain eager to serve rural and remote consumers across Ontario whether by heating their homes, fueling their farm equipment or powering their vehicle fleets."

About Superior Propane

Superior Propane is Canada's only national provider of portable fuels, equipment and service delivered locally to residential, commercial, agricultural and industrial customers in over 10,000 communities nationwide. In business since 1951, Superior is headquartered in Mississauga, ON and is part of the Energy Distribution division of Superior Plus Corp. Superior Propane employs more than 1,000 Canadians and delivers over 1.2 billion litres of propane annually.

SOURCE Superior Propane

To view this news release in HTML formatting, please use the following URL: http://www.newswire.ca/en/releases/archive/January2017/31/c1301.html

For further information: Sam Mazzotta, Vice President, Marketing, (905) 285-2492, Sam_Mazzotta@superiorpropane.com

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