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Enbridge Gas wants to 'harmonize' its four Ontario rate zones

The company says establishing a single rate zone will allow it to treat customers across Ontario with the same rates for the same service
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THUNDER BAY — Enbridge Gas is proposing some changes for its Ontario operations, including amalgamating the Northwestern Ontario zone with the province's three other regional rate zones.

According to a notice to customers, harmonizing the rate zones will have virtually no impact on a typical customer's bills. 

But the notice also advises that Enbridge is asking the Ontario Energy board to initiate a regulatory process (rebasing) which would lead to changes in natural gas distribution, transportation and storage rates as of January 2024.

A spokesperson told TBnewswatch the impact on customers' bills would vary, with some residential customers across the province seeing decreases of up to 13 per cent, while others would pay up to eight per cent more.

The public notice shows that for customers in the Northwest, these changes would result in a modest bill reduction of $65 per year for most residential customers and a much larger $1,222 decrease for typical commercial customers.

There will be no change in rates related to rebasing before 2024, but standard quarterly rate adjustments can still be expected, with the next one in January 2023.

Recently, natural gas rates in Northwestern Ontario increased by 6.2 per cent for the three-month period that started Oct. 2.

Enbridge has also filed a plan with the OEB to harmonize its four rate zones and to establish new rate classes and a common suite of services across the province.

Andrea Stass, manager of external communications, said that since Union Gas and Enbridge amalgamated in 2019, many systems and services have been harmonized "for a consistent and simplified customer experience."

She said in order to further reflect the operations of a single company, Enbridge is proposing to further align and simplify its rates and services in phases between 2025 and 2026.

"It will give Enbridge Gas the ability to treat customers across Ontario similarly, applying the same rates for the same service ... regardless of where they are located. This will result in varying one-time changes across our current rate zones," Stass said.

Information provided in the public notice indicates that, as a result of rate harmonization, most residential and commercial customers would see a maximum increase of one per cent as of April 2025, while the impact on some other customer classes would range from a decrease of three per cent to an increase of five percent in April 2026. 

As well, Enbridge has applied for approval of an incentive rate-making mechanism (IRM) for the years from 2025 to 2028.

The IRM applies a formula that includes inflation and other items to determine rates.

This is the first cost-based rate application for Enbridge Gas since the OEB approved the amalgamation of Enbridge Gas and Union Gas in 2019.

The energy board will hold a public hearing on the company's proposals.

Anyone may apply to the board be come an intervenor by December 2.


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