Natural gas for rural SD&G; case could be made this fall

SD&G Warden Eric Duncan listens to a councillor's comment during a meeting June 15, 2015. Duncan believes the case could be made this fall to the Ontario Energy Board to allow gas companies to service under-serviced areas like Maxville. (Cornwall Newswatch/Bill Kingston)

SD&G – United Counties Warden Eric Duncan is joining provincial counterparts and stakeholder groups in making the case for natural gas in rural areas.

Duncan is using the agricultural and commercial business sector in SD&G as he steers the Eastern Ontario Wardens’ Caucus (EOWC) on the long-fought issue.

The warden updated county council Monday on his progress as chairman at the EOWC level.

Based on an Ontario Energy Board calculation, the natural gas giants – Union Gas and Enbridge – are tied down on whether they can service a rural area.

It’s dependent on whether they get their return on investment (ROI) within a certain time frame. The mayor used 20 years as an example.

Duncan says in SD&G, a perfect example of an under serviced area is Maxville.

“So what we’re wanting to do is change the equation to have the payback, like a mortgage, extend your mortgage on a pipeline type of thing. That change, the companies aren’t allowed doing it because their ROI does not fit in that time frame,” Duncan told Cornwall Newswatch.

“So what we’re actually looking at doing is changing the goal post a little bit and say we want to do that. We hope that some of those pragmatic changes…would open up more opportunity for communities to qualify in that section,” he said.

Theoretically, homeowners would win by extension if businesses received natural gas.

Duncan adds what “puts it over the finish line” is access to provincial loans and grants to help get under serviced communities serviced.

Several stakeholder groups, such as the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA), are also on board.

Duncan hopes the issue will be addressed in the fall before the province pushes out grants in 2016 and 2017.

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