Province looks to reverse Ontario energy board decision that would ‘raise new home prices’

Toronto (Feb 22) – The provincial government says it has introduced a legislation which, if passed, will reverse an Ontario Energy Board (OEB) decision that would significantly increase the costs of building new homes.

Reversing the OEB’s December 2023 decision will prevent an average of $4,400 being added to the price of new homes, or tens of thousands of dollars being added to the price of a home in rural Ontario, according to a news release from the province.

“The Keeping Energy Costs Down Act will protect future homebuyers from increased costs and keep shovels in the ground on critical infrastructure projects,” Energy Minister Todd Smith said in the statement.

The Keeping Energy Costs Down Act, 2024 would, if passed, give the province authority to reverse the OEB decision to require residential customers and small businesses to pay 100 per cent of the cost of new natural gas connections upfront. These costs would have previously been paid over forty years. Once the government introduces a Natural Gas Policy Statement, a recommendation of the Electrification and Energy Transition Panel’s final report, it will require the OEB to consider this issue again, the province said.

The province will also appoint a new chair of the OEB this spring with the expectation that the board and commissioners conducts appropriate consultation – in line with the proposed legislative requirements – before reaching decisions that support the objective of an affordable, reliable, and clean energy system.

To ensure that future decisions reflect and support the priorities of the people of Ontario, the Keeping Energy Costs Down Act would require the OEB to conduct broader engagement to ensure impacted organizations and sectors have an opportunity to participate in proceedings. It would also enable the government to require the OEB to conduct a separate hearing on any matter of public interest.

The proposed legislation would also maintain the existing treatment of gas transmission projects that are critical to the province’s economic growth by ensuring new customers do not have to incur upfront financial contributions and update the OEB’s Leave to Construct process to respond to concerns raised by municipalities around supporting critical housing projects and local economic development initiatives.

Around 3.8 million households in Ontario currently use natural gas for home heating, representing about 70 per cent of households in the province.

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