Residents in the Oxford County community of Salford now have the option to tap into a natural gas line. The option for local homeowners and businesses was made possible thanks to energy giant EPCOR and some help from the Township of South-West Oxford.
The province assigns territories across Ontario to natural gas providers and Enbridge had the rights to service Salford, but EPCOR had existing gas service much closer to the municipality. Township Mayor David Mayberry said they approached EPCOR about requesting a service area amendment with the Ontario Energy Board. “The OEB agreed it made economic sense since EPCOR had services closer to Salford than Enbridge and the proposal was approved.” EPCOR spokesperson Georgina De Cordova said they are obliged to serve when they receive a request from a municipality, and they were more than pleased to help. “Our focus is to provide value in the communities where we operate – where we can provide expertise they don’t have and bring the latest innovations and technology.”
107 properties in the community can take advantage of natural gas. David has heard that 40 to 50 per cent of people have signed up to make the switch to natural gas which is what EPCOR was hoping for. “The nice thing about the EPCOR model is that there are no upfront costs like other companies. The payment for the service is added on the monthly gas bill and paid off over time,” he added.
Natural gas is cheaper than both propane and oil. It also has a carbon footprint smaller than oil so there is also the environmental benefit. “I think most people, when they see they can save about a third on their bill, they will look at switching to gas when they are ready for a new furnace or water heater.” David adds that the municipality will also benefit somewhat by less expensive heating. “We recently replaced the community centre’s heating system with propane since we were hoping to get natural gas at some point. So that was an easy conversion for us.”
David admits the cost-savings to the few businesses in Salford may not be staggering but “any time you can save them a few dollars it gives them an opportunity for them to thrive a little further and we want to do that as much as we can.” There are even more benefits according to Georgina. “Business can realize a reduction in their insurance premiums by removing oil tanks or baseboard heating. Natural gas also eliminates noise and odour common with other fuel choices.”
South-West Oxford is now turning its attention to another service area amendment to help Salford Group- a global leader in farm equipment manufacturing. “We would like to see them have the economic advantage of using natural gas. I think there is a role for municipal governments to be supportive of our companies, whoever they. We should support it,” said David. “I’m one who believes that small incremental steps in a positive direction are always good.”