by Kevin Werner The Sachem
An Enbridge Gas meter. – Chris Simon/Torstar
Hamilton councillors have agreed to support Enbridge Gas Inc.’s proposal to expand its natural gas service to five areas of Glanbrook and Flamborough.
“Sheffield and Alberton (residents) are looking forward to this,” said Ancaster Coun. Lloyd Ferguson, who represents Ward 12 that now includes parts of rural Flamborough. “Everyone should have the right to use clean, efficient natural gas to heat their homes rather than oil or propane.”
Flamborough Coun. Judi Partridge applauded the idea of Enbridge Gas proposing to expand natural gas services into the rural areas of Flamborough. She said rural agricultural businesses and residents already pay too much to heat their homes and operate their companies.
“The rural community deserves to be treated fairly,” said Partridge. “And right now they are not.”
Enbridge Gas has submitted five projects under the province’s $130-million National Gas Expansion program that allows for projects to serve communities that are not currently connected to a natural gas pipe or are underserved.
The company identified the city’s Airport Employment Growth District lands and the Red Hill Business Park as candidates for natural gas expansion.
In addition, the rural settlement areas of Rockton, Westover, Sheffield and Alberton were also considered qualified candidates. Projects that can start construction between 2021 and 2023 will get the green-light to move forward.
Enbridge had until June 3 to submit its proposals. The Ontario Energy Board is scheduled to report back by Aug. 31.
Enbridge Gas needed a letter of support from Hamilton for the Ontario Energy Board to even consider the company’s application.
“This is just a support letter (for the company) to apply for funding,” said Partridge. “They may or may not get (the funding).”
If any of the projects are selected by the province, the city will then conduct a more detailed analysis of the proposed pipeline expansion.
Enbridge Gas made a similar application to expand service to Sheffield in 2017, but the province did not select the project as part of its program. Council at the time approved Enbridge Gas’s application.
The current proposal to the province is different from its controversial $206-million 10-kilometre natural gas pipeline application that is proposed to go through Flamborough to the Ontario Energy Board. Local climate activists have criticized the proposal because the energy company is using “fracked gas.”
The Hamilton Conservation Authority has also opposed an Enbridge Gas easement request to allow the company to run the pipeline through conservation lands.
Hamilton Mountain resident Mary Love stated in a letter that councillors must oppose Enbridge’s pipeline expansion to the rural settlements. She said much of the company’s gas is fracked and called it “crack cocaine of fossil fuels.”
“Why would your staff be recommending that people who need fuel use Enbridge Gas when geothermal is cheaper, cleaner and more sustainable?” she asked.
City staff said Enbridge received about 11 non-binding responses from companies proposing to invest in Hamilton’s Airport Employment Growth District that would collectively amount to about $1.35 billion and create over 6,000 direct jobs.
Alvin Chan, manager of legislative approvals for the City of Hamilton, said Enbridge Gas couldn’t identify the cost of a household to hook up to a natural gas pipeline, but the company said over a 40-year period the savings for residents could be in the “hundreds to thousands of dollars.”