Carbon pricing has been reinstated on Ontario’s natural gas bills 10 months after utilities were instructed to remove the levy that the provincial government has been seeking to quash. Since then, the federal government invoked the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act (GGPP) as a replacement for Ontario’s dismantled cap-and-trade system and natural gas distributors have been remitting 3.91 cents per cubic metre (m3) since April 1.
The charge will reappear as a line item on customers’ bills beginning this month, equating to 3.91 cents/m3 of consumption. In addition, the more nominal flow-through of the utility’s own carbon pricing costs for its buildings, equipment and fleet — known as the facility carbon charge — will be bundled into the delivery and transportation charge on each bill. In a filing to the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) earlier this spring, Enbridge Gas, Ontario’s predominant supplier to residential, commercial and industrial consumers, projected that would amount to $2.3 million province-wide in 2019, or about 0.2 per cent of carbon pricing collected from consumers.
As accredited intervenors at the OEB hearing, both the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) of Toronto and the Federation of Rental-housing Providers of Ontario (FRPO) urged that the facility carbon charge also be visible as part of the carbon pricing line item. However, the OEB decision concurs with a countering argument from Enbridge that it could diminish transparency.
“Having the federal carbon charge (customer-related) set out as a separate line on the bill will allow a customer to reconcile the amount of their bill to the legislated charge for carbon more easily than if it was combined with the facility carbon charge,” it states.
In total, it’s projected average residential customers will have to pay an extra $86 to $94 on their natural gas bills over the coming year. That has been factored into rebates of $154, for single individuals, to $307, for families, that Ontarians will receive after filing their 2019 income tax.
For businesses, the first round of the Climate Action Incentive Fund, providing grants of up to $250,000 for upgrades to energy efficiency, is now open for applications. A similar program for municipal, education and health care facilities has been promised.
Greg Rickford, Ontario Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines, did not to acknowledge the rebates and incentives in a statement issued yesterday. “This is just one more example of how the federal government’s carbon tax is making life more unaffordable for families and businesses and the people of Ontario deserve to know the full truth about its impact,” he bridled.