RISK: Ontario wants more trucks burning natural gas

Province to spend $100 million on fuelling stations

Ontario will spend up to $100 million to help natural gas suppliers create more fuelling stations to encourage more trucks to use the fuel instead of diesel or gasoline.

The Canadian Press has learned the move to expand the use of natural gas as a fuel for trucks will be part of the Liberal government’s action plan on climate change, which will be released Wednesday.

Sources say there is some interest in the trucking industry for a switch to natural gas, but truckers want to see a province-wide network of fuelling stations.

The sources also say the action plan will not call for a ban or phasing-out of natural gas or any other fossil fuels for home heating as reported earlier.

Natural gas is used to heat more than three-quarters of the homes in Ontario, and critics had warned that phasing it out would drive up energy costs for everyone.

Provincial experts believe a steady rise in the price of natural gas as governments put a price on carbon will eventually prompt homeowners and builders to look for cheaper, cleaner alternatives, so they see no need to ban fossil fuels for home heating.

The sources say the province will offer incentives when homeowners are ready to install alternatives such as geo-thermal or heat pump systems, and point out no one is talking about a return to old-fashioned electric baseboard heaters.

They say the idea is to give consumers a choice, not to force them into making changes, and the Liberals will be ready with financial support when homeowners decide on their own to switch to cleaner alternatives.

The province already announced the climate change action plan will include $100 million to help municipalities recover methane from landfills, green bins, manure and sewage treatment plants and turn it into so-called renewable natural gas.

The plan will also include $900 million to retrofit social housing and apartment buildings with such things as energy-efficient windows and thermal insulation on pipes.

Ontario will implement a cap-and-trade system for greenhouse gas emissions as the other part of its plan to address climate change, and expects that will add about $5 a month to home heating bills and about 4.3 cents a litre to the price of gasoline.

The Liberal government hopes to raise $1.9 billion a year from joining a cap-and-trade plan with California and Quebec, which will allow industrial polluters to buy extra emission credits if necessary or sell emission credits that they don’t use.

The government has promised all of that money will be spent on initiatives that help individuals, companies and municipalities adapt to new cleaner technologies that will reduce their carbon footprint.

Ontario’s goal is to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 15 per cent from 1990 levels by 2020, by 37 per cent in 2030 and by 80 per cent in 2050.

Copyright © 2017 Transcontinental Media G.P.
Transcontinental Media G.P.