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  • The Debates Heat up on Natural Gas Rates

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Last week, Ontario Energy Group Consumer Watch discussed the proposed natural gas hike that Enbridge had submitted, following uncharacteristically brutal 2013-2014 winter weather. The debates rage on whether or not this proposed hike, originally offered at 40% current rates, is feasible or fair for Ontario homeowners in the face of gas shortages and increased consumption.

The Ontario Energy Board has seen an influx of letter writing from both Ontario homeowners and businesses, questioning the good sense of Enbridge’s petition for higher rates. In the meanwhile, the Ontario Energy Board has proposed an interim rate instead of the proposed rate to be shuffled out on April 1st. This would give all parties involved the ability to assess how homeowners and businesses can cope with a rate hike going forward.

In many ways, all parties are locked on the issue, with Enbridge’s financial strength competing against an Ontario populace increasing frustrated with the state of Ontario’s energy system, the results of the infamous 2013 Ice Storm, and the general fear that rate hikes won’t be a short term solution to gas shortages.

Ontario Minister of the Environment Gord Miller commented on the situation as such:

“The winter of 2013/2014 might be an anomaly, but it should introduce a note of caution about our high reliance in Ontario on natural gas to meet our energy needs.”

Energy needs which have consistently risen in a model that matches the ongoing march of consumer capitalism at work. While natural gas remains a plentiful resource, concerns arise how plentiful it remains, and what happens when the cost to warm Ontario homes becomes too great for its dwellers.

As homeowners and residents, there’s little we can do to affect the overall natural gas market which affects us every day. Indeed, there seems to be little Enbridge can do to correct it as well, which paints the debate as something of a comedy of errors. Neither side can justifiably point the finger at the other, as Enbridge remains beholden to its business model and residents remain bound by the basic need to stay warm and safe.

Above all, Ontario Energy Group Consumer Watch advises that the best way to weather the worst of the natural gas hike is to make every available effort to reduce consumption. With rates still below the historic 2004 peak levels, the wiggle room for making improvements on your home and adjusting to a lower-energy lifestyle will be far more feasible than if you start in the next five years.

Small improvements on your home, including making energy efficient modifications, can save a substantial amount on your energy bills, as well as contributing to an Ontario that is more sensible and conservative in its energy consumption. As a gold lining to the issue, lower consumption may lead to a much sought-after rate decrease in the near future.

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