|Ontario government is bringing in new changes to reduce greenhouse emissions. As part of this natural gas and gasoline prices will go up. The climate-charge will not be shown separately in the bill though. Not sure why it needs to be hidden. They intend to collect and spend $8.3 billion over 5 years to reduce greenhouse emissions. From January 2017, gasoline prices go up by 4.5 cents and average increase of $5 to natural gas bill.
Consumers don?t need to know to the penny how much Ontario?s $8.3-billion plan to fight climate change will add to their natural gas bills, Premier Kathleen Wynne says.
The premier and her new Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault said Thursday they stand behind last week?s decision by the Ontario Energy Board to include the carbon charge under the ?delivery? line on gas bills.
Opposition parties have slammed the OEB ruling, saying it hides a cost that should be listed separately and will be subject to the 13-per-cent harmonized sales tax.
?Overburdened Ontario families deserve to know why their natural gas bills are going to go up,? said the Progressive Conservatives.
Wynne, who has previously warned household natural gas bills will rise about $5 a month next year because of the carbon fee, said the decision on the bills is final because the energy board is independent of government.
?We?ve already talked about the fact that there will be some increases, so we?ve done that, we will continue to be transparent of the cost,? she told reporters at an east-end hospital.
But critics accused the government of playing both sides of the fence when it comes to disclosure on bills.
The former Ontario Clean Energy Benefit, a 10-per-cent discount on electricity dating to former premier Dalton McGuinty?s administration, was listed separately on hydro bills.
?Here we have, once again, Premier Wynne doing things to the advantage of the Liberals,? said NDP Leader Andrea Horwath. ?They?re hiding this carbon charge instead of being transparent.?
The Ministry of Energy said in a late-afternoon statement that the energy board has ?sole authority? over how natural gas bills are presented with the government having ?regulatory power over electricity bills.?
The OEB revealed last week that utilities and industrial natural gas users had pressed for a separate line item for the carbon charge, not including it in the delivery fee.
Thibeault, who was appointed energy minister in June, said ?there?s nothing hidden about this? when asked about the carbon charge on the way into a cabinet meeting earlier Thursday.
But he acknowledged that ?the delivery charge is something that?s important to start explaining to consumers,? particularly in northern and rural areas, where costs of getting gas to homes can be higher than in cities.
Under the plan revealed last spring, the government has said carbon charges would add about $5 monthly to natural gas bills and boost the price of gasoline by 4.3 cents per litre, about $13 a month for households.
?Most people in Ontario recognize that if we don?t do something about climate change, the consequences are going to be astronomical,? said Thibeault, who added that he would not overrule the board.
?It?s not up to us as a government to tell an arm?s length organization what they can and cannot do.?
Starting in January, Ontario will join Quebec and California in a greenhouse-gas-emissions market, putting a cap on the release of carbon gases and allowing companies to trade emission credits if they are under their limits.
Ontario?s climate change plan, revealed in early June, includes 28 directives that include a cash-for-clunkers plan aimed at low- and moderate-income drivers, to get old cars off the road; hydro bill rebates to offset the cost of charging electric cars at home, and programs to help Ontarians make their homes more efficient in their use of energy.
Those efforts will be funded, in part, by the gasoline and carbon charges that citizens will pay when they fill up their cars and on their natural gas bills.
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