Timmins Chamber pushes Ontario Energy Board for cap-and-trade transparency


Date:  9/7/2016
ArticleType:  Press Release

Timmins, ON | SEPTEMBER 7, 2016: In partnership with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, the Timmins Chamber is calling for the Ontario Energy Board to reverse its decision to fold cap-and-trade costs into the delivery line of customers’ natural gas bills, a move that would effectively hide those costs.

In a letter collaboratively issued to Rosemarie Leclair, Chair and CEO of the Ontario Energy Board (OEB), the provincial Chamber network called upon the arm’s-length organization to instead separate the cost of carbon emissions into their own line item on bills – an approach that’s in use in other Canadian cap-and-trade regimes, such as those in British Columbia and Quebec.

By instead choosing to blend those potential costs of the proposed provincial climate change plan into the generic delivery charge, consumers and businesses alike will be unable to determine what the real cost of emissions may be, said Chris Bender, president of the Timmins Chamber.

“If the provincial government plans to move ahead with a cap-and-trade regime that will have a definite financial impact on business, it must provide the ability to determine where it is working and where it is not,” said Bender.

“The inability to see the direct cost of their fossil fuel usage prevents businesses from being able to manage and reduce that usage. If the goal of the proposed cap-and-trade program is to encourage a reduction in emissions, it is incumbent on the OEB to be as transparent as possible about the associated costs.”  

The letter issued to the OEB also raises questions about some of the other uncertainties raised by the decision to blend cap-and-trade costs into the delivery charge. In particular, it is unclear about how the province will continue to ensure the tax exempt status of certain fossil fuel users, such as farmers and First Nations communities, when the cap-and-trade cost is rolled into the delivery charges on the purchase of gasoline, diesel, propane, and natural gas.

In previous communications with the provincial government, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) and the Timmins Chamber were informed that the decision to determine the handling of cap-and-trade-related costs on consumer bills is the sole purview of the OEB. While its mandate is determined by the Ontario government, the OEB is an arm’s-length agency which is neutral and independent from the government.

“Our chambers believe that the transparency of the cap and trade program is an essential component of driving changes in customer behavior, which is fundamental to achieving the government’s emission reduction objectives,” said Allan O’Dette, CEO and president of the OCC, in the letter. “All natural gas customers need to see the cost of carbon allowances clearly identified on their bills to make informed decisions in respect of that price signal. We would therefore respectfully request that the OEB reverse this decision in the interest of successfully moving the cap and trade program forward.”

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About the Timmins Chamber of Commerce

With over 700 members, the Timmins Chamber of Commerce is one of the largest accredited chambers of commerce with distinction in northeastern Ontario. As the “Voice of Business in Timmins” since 1949, our advocacy and policy initiatives focus on ensuring a positive business climate in the City of Timmins.

Media contact:

Nick Stewart
Manager of Policy, Research and Communications
Timmins Chamber of Commerce
(705) 360-1900
policy@timminschamber.on.ca