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Natural gas price hike will also hit hydro bills: Chiarelli

By Antonella Artuso, Queen's Park Bureau Chief

Ontario Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli. (MICHAEL PEAKE/Toronto Sun)

Ontario Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli. (MICHAEL PEAKE/Toronto Sun)

TORONTO - 

A spike in the price of natural gas this winter could drive up more than just your Enbridge Gas bill.

Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli said some of the province’s gas-fired electricity generators may be facing higher costs as a result of the spiralling price for natural gas.

“The price of gas impacts on the price of electricity, as well,” Chiarelli said Monday.

Enbridge Gas Distribution has already applied to the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) for a 40% increase in what it charges consumers. If approved, those in the average household would have to spend about $400 more a year for gas.

Most natural gas-fired electricity plants have long-term fixed price contracts but may have had to purchase some fuel on the expensive spot market, he said.

Chiarelli expects the impact on electricity prices to be “much more muted and balanced out.”

“The OEB sets the price for the province’s electricity and natural gas sectors except for privately-owned generators which are covered by contracts signed with the Ontario Power Authority.”

An increase in the gas bill appears likely to be approved.

“Enbridge purchases its gas at an increased rate now because of the winter that we’ve had in North America,” Chiarelli said. “And Enbridge, when they ask for a rate increase, it reflects the price of gas that they’re paying for at their cost, also their own distribution costs.”

While it’s not a short-term solution for consumers, it will be important to implement energy conservation measures wherever possible, he said.

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