EPCOR is pleased to invite the public to the launch of its Customer Care Centre at 735 Queen St, Kincardine, ON N2Z 1Z9 in Kincardine, Ontario, on June 23, 2017 at 12:30pm.
The municipalities of Kincardine, Arran-Elderslie and Huron-Kinloss selected EPCOR as their preferred natural gas service provider following a competitive RFP process, later granting EPCOR franchise agreements in 2016 to build and operate a natural gas delivery system in their communities.
"We are very pleased that EPCOR is opening a Customer Care Centre at this time" said Kincardine Mayor Anne Eadie. "This will provide an excellent opportunity for the public to meet with EPCOR staff directly about their current energy requirements and costs and how they can benefit from converting to natural gas".
"Our municipalities have done everything they can do to bring gas to our area" said Paul Eagleson, Mayor of Arran-Elderslie. "The final approval process is determined by the Ontario Energy Board and we continue to wait for its decision on when a hearing will be scheduled to obtain the necessary final approvals."
"It would be fair to say that we are all frustrated with the length of time the regulatory process is taking" said Mayor Mitch Twolan of Huron-Kinloss. "This has already been a multi-year process for the municipalities to develop the business case in support of bringing natural gas to our area, undertaking a competitive RFP process, and going through an initial review hearing at the Ontario Energy Board in 2016. We really hope the final Ontario Energy Board hearing will start no later than this fall and conclude before year end."
In April 2017, the province announced the creation of a $100 million Natural Gas Grant Program to help expand natural gas access to more communities in Ontario. The purpose of this program is to help improve energy affordability and support economic development, including for farms and agribusiness in rural Ontario. Municipalities must indicate their support for gaining access to natural gas through a council resolution. The three Southern Bruce Councils intend to pass their resolutions within the next month and send them directly to the Minister of Infrastructure who is administering the grant program.
"Given the extensive work our communities have already done over the past 6 years to promote access to natural gas, our expectation is that we will receive a significant grant from the Province" said Mayor Eadie. "In many ways Kincardine, Arran-Elderslie and Huron-Kinloss have been leaders in changing the approach taken in Ontario to facilitate natural gas expansion."
"The Ontario Energy Board approvals cannot come fast enough for Southern Bruce" said Mayor Twolan.
"EPCOR is ready to go as soon we as get the necessary regulatory approvals. Like our partner municipalities, we are anxious to take the next steps toward bringing long-awaited natural gas access to their communities and citizens," said EPCOR Senior Vice President, Commercial Services - Stephen Stanley. "We are pleased to be opening a Customer Care Centre in Kincardine so we can meet with people directly, and provide information they will need to convert to natural gas."
EPCOR and the municipalities also intend to host another public information session this summer in all three communities as part of EPCOR's environmental impact review required for natural gas expansion in the area and to update the community on status of the Ontario Energy Board process.
Details for this next public meeting will be made available soon.