OFA provided comments on the future of the Natural Gas Expansion Program (NGEP) from an agricultural and rural perspective. Since 2018, OFA has championed natural gas access for rural and farm communities. OFA outlined seven recommendations:
- Improve project rate of connection by allocating some NGEP funds towards connection costs that otherwise discourage potential customers from connecting to existing or new expansions due to their distance from the distributor pipeline.
- Establish Ontario targets for RNG and hydrogen injection into natural gas pipelines.
- Consider metrics beyond connections per $ of NGEP support. Consider projects that bring other communities closer to the pipeline grid; increasing project Profitability Index (PI) and bringing these other communities closer to financial viability for future expansion access.
- Consider the contribution of business customer volumes towards project viability, and the benefits that access provides to local community and small business economic development.
- Increase awareness about available government/industry subsidies and the ease of accessing incentives for converting a home to natural gas heating from other fuel types.
- Continue to support further public investment in natural gas infrastructure. The government has a key role in identifying potential natural gas expansion projects to receive public funding, based on advice from the Ontario Energy Board (OEB), project proponents, and the public.
- OFA views natural gas as an appropriate fit with federal, provincial and municipal sustainability objectives. Infrastructure expansion has numerous benefits including the development of RNG and low-carbon hydrogen for pipeline injection.