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Ontario Energy Board

The OEB regulates the natural gas industry in Ontario in the public's interest. Under Section 90 of the Ontario Energy Board Act, the OEB's review and approval are required before the Project can proceed.

If approved, construction of the pipeline is currently expected to begin no earlier than Q3 2018.

EPCOR plans to complete the report for the environmental study in the fall of 2016, after which EPCOR will file an application for the proposed pipelines with the OEB. This application will include comprehensive information on the project, including: the need for the project, facility alternatives, project costs and economics, pipeline design, pipeline construction, environmental mitigation measures, land requirements, and Aboriginal consultation.

The OEB will then hold a public hearing to review the project. This will include notices in local newspapers, letters to directly affected landowners, the opportunity for the general public and landowners to ask questions and submit questions regarding the project, and a written decision regarding the project.

If, after this review, the OEB finds the project is in the public interest, it will approve construction of the pipelines. If the project is approved the OEB normally attaches conditions to its approval with which EPCOR will comply during the construction and restoration process. You can learn more about the OEB by visiting their website.

Generic hearing

The Ontario Energy Board (OEB) began a process to consider the views of people who have an interest in the expansion of natural gas distribution facilities. The Ontario government's long-term energy plan indicated that it would look at opportunities to expand natural gas service to unserved Ontario communities. In response to a letter from the Ontario Ministry of Energy encouraging the OEB to examine opportunities for natural gas service in more communities, the OEB issued a letter which invited parties with the technical and financial expertise to apply to the OEB for permission to build facilities to serve communities with natural gas.

In July 2015, Union Gas Limited filed an application with the OEB seeking approval to provide natural gas service to certain communities and, amongst other things, proposed alternative approaches to recover revenues. Numerous parties, including EPCOR, intervened in Union’s application and presented on the evidence they intended to file. Based on the submissions of the parties, the OEB determined that the most appropriate forum to deal with the proposed funding approaches was through the generic hearing process. The generic proceeding will determine various issues, including:

  1. Does the OEB have the legal authority to establish a framework whereby the customers of one utility subsidize the expansion undertaken by another distributor into communities that do not have natural gas service?
  2. What types of processes could be implemented to facilitate the introduction of new entrants to provide service to communities that do not have access to natural gas.
  3. Should the OEB consider imposing conditions or making other changes to Municipal Franchise Agreements and Certificates of Public Convenience and Necessity to reduce barriers to natural gas expansion?

After being chosen as the preferred proponent, EPCOR began negotiations with the Municipalities of Arran-Elderslie and Kincardine and the Township of Huron-Kinloss to bring natural gas service to Southern Bruce and entered into gas distribution franchise agreements with each community in February 2016. These franchise applications have been filed with the OEB for approval and the OEB will issue a future hearing date for these applications. As a new entrant in the gas distribution market, EPCOR will be impacted by the determinations from the generic proceeding. EPCOR has actively participated in the generic hearing process by filing evidence and participating in pre-hearing activities.

Competitive Process

As a result of the Generic Hearing, the OEB decided to implement a competitive process for the Southern Bruce project. EPCOR submitted its Common Infrastructure Plan to the OEB on October, 16, 2017. Based on these submissions, the OEB will decide on the success proponent for the Southern Bruce project in Q4 2017.