Statement by Keith Brooks, Programs Director

Toronto | Traditional territories of the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishinaabeg, the Haudenosaunee, and the Wendat – Environmental Defence denounces The Keeping Energy Costs Down Act by the Ontario government that would overturn the December 2023 decision by the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) to end the subsidy for Enbridge to install gas lines in new housing developments.

This legislation would be bad for new homeowners, bad for existing gas customers, and bad for the environment. The only one that benefits is Enbridge gas. This is all too similar to the Greenbelt scandal: the government is legislating against the public good in the services of a few private interests, namely Enbridge and housing developers.

This legislation also sets a dangerous precedent: this is the first time any government of Ontario has overruled a decision by the independent Ontario Energy Board. The board’s mandate is to keep energy costs down and that’s what drove this decision.

While many jurisdictions are moving to ban gas hook ups in new homes, this ruling simply said that existing gas users should no longer subsidize gas hook ups, prompting builders to ask whether they should put gas in new homes. The alternative being installing heat pumps instead, which the Board found would save money for homeowners.

Expanding the scope of projects exempted from OEB oversight is another gift by the provincial government to Enbridge and Ontario’s housing developers at the expense of current gas customers who will be subsidising these expansions with no recourse. This government overreach also flies in the face of the need to keep housing affordable by providing homeowners with energy efficient heating solutions such as heat pumps that cost substantially less to operate in the long term than natural gas.

We call on the Ontario government to stop its plan to pass this legislation.

Additional Information: 

In addition to undoing the OEB’s December 21 decision, The Keeping Energy Costs Down Act also proposes to change the Leave to Construct process that included oversight by the OEB for any pipeline project over $2 million or above. Under the proposed legislation, the provincial government is proposing to exempt pipeline projects that cost between $2 million and $10 million from OEB oversight. In other words, the OEB will no longer be determining if applications for pipelines up to $10 million are in the public’s interest.

It appears that the new legislation would also pre-emptively override another OEB decision about a project in the Windsor area. The project would require at least a $150 million subsidy from existing gas customers. The subsidy would mainly benefit gas power plant expansions and fossil-fuel heated greenhouses. Environmental Defence and all ratepayer intervenors opposed the subsidy and asked the OEB to disallow it.

ABOUT ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE ( Environmental Defence is a leading Canadian environmental advocacy organization that works with government, industry and individuals to defend clean water, a safe climate and healthy communities.

– 30 –

For more information or to request an interview, please contact:

Tamara Latinovic, Environmental Defence