Natural Gas Subsidies In Muskoka


June 18, 2021

MUSKOKA – On June 13, 2021 Climate Action Muskoka (CAM) sent an open letter to MPP Miller and Premier Ford to raise awareness of a misguided Ontario policy – the expansion of new gas lines. The goal of affordable home heating is a good one. However, adding more greenhouse gases (GHGs) to the atmosphere is not the way to go. Muskoka must reduce GHG emissions 50% by 2030 and reach net zero emissions by 2050.

CAM advocates practical, workable solutions. We suggested four obvious ways to eliminate the need for natural gas heating: 1) super-insulated buildings require far less energy to heat; 2) advancements in heat pump technology make them the most energy efficient form of heating available (and they function well to -20C); 3) solar panels can help reduce the need for grid electricity; and 4) cash rebates can offset electrical energy costs. CAM also opposes the use of natural gas to generate electricity.

Our letter cited the government subsidies for Burk’s Falls and Hidden Valley. The cost: $3.1M for 144 buildings ($21,500 per unit!). We did not include the cost of the full Natural Gas Expansion Program (NGEP). In 2018 the Ford government put aside $234M to fund new gas distribution to 8,750 buildings ($26,000 per unit!).

It is provincial tax contributions that are funding the installation of natural gas lines by private companies. However, residents will be required to purchase natural gas furnaces themselves, committing them to the use of GHG-emitting fossil fuels for the next decade.

CAM believes that the NGEP is a misguided use of our Provincial resources. The policy does not reduce heating costs for the majority of Ontarians, and causes significant harm to our environment.

The Ford government is not responding to the urgency of the climate crisis and taking appropriate steps to address it. In fact, the government has already spent $231M to cancel over 750 renewable energy projects. As well, they have proposed legislation (within Bill 276) to repeal the existing requirement to give priority consideration to renewable energy production.

CAM calls on the provincial government to:

1.  Halt and reverse the expansion of natural gas distribution.

2.  Phase out gas-fired power plants by 2030.

3.  Spend the previously allocated funds on energy solutions that reduce GHGs.

4.  Distribute the benefits of the spending more equitably.

Oliver Klimek

On behalf of Climate Action Muskoka