Natural gas inches toward Warwick, one pipeline at a time

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Lambton-Kent-Middlesex MPP Monte McNaughton at an announcement in 2018 about the expansion of natural gas in rural Ontario.

The Village of Warwick is inching closer to getting natural gas, one pipeline project at a time.

That’s according to Brian Lennie, Senior Advisor, Municipal and Stakeholder Engagement from Enbridge, who told Warwick Township councillors a relatively new program is enabling the company to complete smaller natural gas pipelines around the village.

Normally, if you want natural gas at your home, farm or business, Enbridge assesses how much it will cost and demands an upfront payment. That fee can be tens of thousands of dollars.

The provincial and municipal government have recognized that in some areas, Enbridge isn’t likely to work on projects because they’re not profitable.  Warwick has been trying for years to get natural gas to the village and in 2019, many thought it was imminent when then Minister of Infrastructure, Lambton-Kent-Middlesex MPP Monte McNaughton, hosted a news conference at a farm on the outskirts of Warwick Village announcing a provincial plan to help expand natural gas pipelines to rural areas by supporting project which wouldn’t be economically viable. 

But the Warwick Village project didn’t get funding in the first phase. 

It was also left out when the province handed out the next round of projects. In all, about $373 million of provincial cash has been spent supporting projects in rural and remote areas.

Lennie says the Conservative government has promised a third round of projects soon. They’ll focus on builds linked to growing businesses opportunities. There is no timeline for when those grants might be announced.

Lennie says it appears that provincial grant program will likely be limited to larger projects. 

So, Enbridge is now working with smaller numbers of homeowners extending gas lines in rural Warwick township.

 Recently, the Ontario Energy Board allowed the utility to place a charge on the property owner’s bill to pay for the expansion of services. That charge would take the place of an upfront payment. The charge could be stretched out on the bill for as long as 40 years.

“While we wait to see what the government does with phase three were going to go ahead with incremental growth,” Lennie told council Monday.

In one project, 10 customers between on Egremont Road between Quaker Road and Nauvoo Road was completed with the customer surcharge in 2022.

Another north on Nauvoo Road past Egremont Road is in the works now.

Councillor Wayne Morris says residents in the area have heard about the first local expansion project and want to know where they can express an interest in the pay-as-you-go system. Lennie says customers simply have to go online and google Enbridge’s Get Connected program.

There is only one catch to the program, the new customers can only be charged 40 years for the pipeline. If it would take, say, 42 years to pay off, the Ontario Energy Board won’t approve it.

Lennie says the only way for the project to then move ahead is for the municipal government to step up and pay the fees for the last two years. Lennie says there hasn’t been the need for extra cash Warwick yet and the company is “still pushing forward no matter what…committed to building incrementally.”