Open letter to Premier Kathleen Wynne about Ontario's Climate Change Action plan

OTTAWA, May 25, 2016 /CNW/ - Here is the content of the open letter from the Canadian Gas Association :

The Honourable Kathleen O. Wynne
Premier of Ontario and
Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs
Room 281, Main Legislative Building,
Queen's Park
Toronto, Ontario M7A 1A1

Dear Premier Wynne,

The leaked Climate Change Action Plan, according to the Globe and Mail, includes an agenda to move homes, businesses and other buildings off of natural gas.

This agenda is incredibly irresponsible. Let me explain why.

First, it is irresponsible because it arbitrarily restricts the freedom of more than 3.5 million Ontario homes, businesses and industrial facilities currently using natural gas to meet their energy needs in the manner they want.  Residential and commercial space and water heating, industrial heating and other services are being met by natural gas. Almost 80% of Ontario homes are heated with it, and overall it represents over 35% of Ontario's end-use energy needs – much more than electricity.  On a cold day in winter, the energy equivalent of more than twice Ontario's entire electricity system output – it would require more than 80,000 megawatts additional installed capacity - goes through the natural gas system.  Northern communities, rural communities, farms, businesses, industrial facilities and others currently not using natural gas want to use natural gas. But the climate change action plan will tell them they can't – because your government says so.

Second, it is irresponsible because of what it will cost. Homeowners and businesses choose natural gas for many reasons, but particularly because it is affordable.  A very rough calculation shows that a transition for a home owner from gas to electric heat could raise energy space heating costs by up to $3,000 per year. That's just the energy bill. Add to that the cost of purchasing the prescribed alternative heating technology (air source or ground source heat pump), the ducting retrofit required, tearing out natural gas systems, and building out the electric grid to meet the new demand.  And what if a barbecue is gas-fired, or a water heater, or a dryer, or a fire-place, or a stovetop? Are you going to make homeowners choose more expensive options for all of those as well? At a time when other energy costs are rising, Ontarians are getting excellent value from their natural gas use. 

Energy affordability isn't just important to families at home. It's critical for business and industry. Energy is a major cost for any business; drive that cost up and the business will become less competitive, less able to retain or hire workers, more likely to shut down, and more likely to move to other jurisdictions (like Obama's America) where natural gas use is encouraged.  Or what about schools and hospitals and other public institutions that will see their energy bills rise? Shutting down natural gas use will reduce available funds for essential public services. Affordable energy makes Ontario more competitive, gives it the capacity to deliver more public services, and helps the province grow and create jobs.  Natural gas is affordable energy. U.S. border-states are having something of a manufacturing renaissance on the back of this affordability – Ontario should not be thinking about losing the competitive advantage it represents.

Third, it is irresponsible because it will undermine the resilience of the energy system. Energy is delivered in a variety of ways. That makes for a more resilient system.  How? When the electricity system fails, the gas system can meet a lot of energy demand – think about using your gas fireplace or stove even when the power is out. Our system is better because of this resilience: it means we are better able to withstand serious incidents. A system that is unduly dependent on any one delivery system is a less reliable system.

And fourth, it is irresponsible because it amounts to a declaration that the gas industry is incapable of finding innovative ways to reduce CO2 emissions. How about you ask utilities for those, rather than shutting down service delivery?  If you want to deliver energy efficiently, natural gas is key: it consumes it at the point of use in heating which is the most efficient way to use energy.  If you want intermittent electric renewables like wind and solar, you need a ready partner power source for reliability: natural gas is the most effective one. Or if you want renewables, why just pursue electric renewables? Blend renewable natural gas into the grid – energy from municipal solid waste, or waste water treatment, or agricultural waste, or biomass. It is often much more cost-effective. Do you want to help rural communities reduce their energy costs? Connect them to the gas grid. Do you want northern communities off of higher-cost, high-emitting fuels?  Get them compressed (CNG) or liquefied natural gas (LNG). Do you want to cost-effectively reduce transportation sector emissions? Use CNG or LNG there too. Don't tell society how to achieve your objectives – give people the freedom to be creative themselves. Natural gas utilities have demonstrated time and again their willingness to partner on emission reduction objectives.

Ontario's gas utilities and their partners across Canada believe natural gas and the infrastructure that delivers it have helped deliver a remarkable standard of living in Ontario, contributing to the building of a stronger province and country for over 100 years. We want to keep building on the natural gas opportunity – as part of a broader energy system that includes electricity, liquid fuels, energy efficiency, and emerging technologies. Our customers want the choice and flexibility of that system diversity.  Shutting down natural gas will restrict choice and flexibility.

We don't know what the final Climate Action Plan will look like, but last Monday's leak was not a good early signal.  We are going to work hard to make sure our customers are aware of it.


Timothy M. Egan
President & CEO
Canadian Gas Association


Honourable David Zimmer, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs
Honourable Jeff Leal, Minister of Agriculture
Honourable Madeleine Meilleur, Attorney General and Minister Responsible for Francophone Affairs
Honourable Tracy MacCharles, Minister of Children & Youth Services and Minister Responsible for Women's Issues
Honourable Michael Chan, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and International Trade
Honourable Dr. Helena Jaczek, Minister of Community and Social Services
Honourable Yasir Naqvi, Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services, Government House Leader
Honourable Brad Duguid, Minister of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure
Honourable Liz Sandals, Minister of Education
Honourable Bob Chiarelli, Minister of Energy
Honourable Glen R. Murray, Minister of the Environment and Climate Change
Honourable Charles Sousa, Minister of Finance
Honourable David Orazietti, Minister of Government and Consumer Services
Honourable Dr. Eric Hoskins, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care
Honourable Kevin Flynn, Minister of Labour
Honourable Ted McMeekin, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing
Honourable Bill Mauro, Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry
Honourable Michael Gravelle, Minister of Northern Development and Mines
Honourable Michael Coteau, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport; Minister Responsible for the 2015 Pan and Parapan American Games; and Minister Responsible for Anti-Racism
Honourable Reza Moridi, Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities and Minister of Research and Innovation
Honourable Mario Sergio, Minister Responsible for Seniors Affairs
Honourable Steven Del Duca, Minister of Transportation
Honourable Deb Matthews, Deputy Premier, President of the Treasury Board, and Minister Responsible for the Poverty Reduction Strategy

About CGA
The Canadian Gas Association (CGA) is the voice of Canada's natural gas distribution industry and its members are distribution companies, transmission companies, equipment manufacturers and other service providers.  Natural gas has a central place in Canada's energy mix meeting over 30 per cent of the country's energy needs.  Today over 6.6 million customers representing well over 20 million Canadians rely on natural gas for heat and power in homes, apartments, buildings, businesses, hospitals and schools.

Relevant Links
Ontario Backgrounder
Industry at a Glance


SOURCE Canadian Gas Association

For further information: please contact: Paula Dunlop, Director, Public and Government Affairs, Canadian Gas Association, 613-748-0057 x341, 613-614-3280


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