Ontario Gas Customers Slam Billion Dollar Giveaway to Texas-Based Energy Corporation

    TORONTO, Aug. 13 /CNW/ - The McGuinty government is being asked to
overturn an Ontario Energy Board (OEB) Decision allowing Union Gas's
Texas-based owners, Spectra Energy (formerly Duke Energy) will get to pocket
an estimated billion dollars over a ten year period that would otherwise have
gone to their customers.
    In documents filed today with the Ontario cabinet, the Vulnerable Energy
Consumers Coalition (VECC), a coalition of seniors and tenant organizations
representing low and fixed income customers, replied to Union Gas submissions
that sought to justify the OEB decision to deregulate the natural gas storage
market. The effect of the Board-ordered deregulation is to give all the
revenue earned on the storage sold to non-Union customers to Union's American
parent. Prior to this, Union customers were credited with most of the revenue
from these storage sales because they had paid in their rates to develop the
    This means, after a brief transition period, a loss of an estimated
one hundred million dollars per year to Union's customers which will be have
to be made up in increased rates. All natural gas customers pay for storage in
their rates that helps to meet winter heating demands. Part of the annual
one hundred million dollars paid to Union's owners will include an additional
amount of $40 million dollars paid by Enbridge customers to Union for storage
it traditionally rents from Union.
    "The Ontario government must tell Union's customers why it's necessary to
give a billion dollars of Ontario consumers' money to Spectra when that money
has been obtained by the use of storage facilities that the customers already
built for Union with their rates," said Michael Janigan, Executive Director
and General Counsel of the Public Interest Advocacy Centre which represents
VECC. "This money belongs to customers. Sending it to Texas won't help build
any new storage, and won't save any energy in this province," Janigan added.
    Other major natural gas consumer groups have also appealed the
controversial OEB decision. The Industrial Gas Users Association (IGUA) and
the Consumers Council of Canada (CCC) have also filed petitions to the Ontario
Cabinet challenging the decision that would deregulate all Union storage that
is not now needed to serve its own customers and give the storage rental
revenue to the company. VECC has requested that the Government return the
matter to the OEB for review with a view to changing its Decision so that
Ontario customers will be protected.

For further information:

For further information: Michael Janigan, (613) 562-4002 ext 26,
Executive Director and General Counsel, Public Interest Advocacy Centre

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