Natural Gas Rate Changes Jan. 1, 2017

Ontario natural gas prices are changing, but still lower than previous years

Natural gas customers across Ontario will see increases on their bills in the New Year, but overall, prices will remain lower in 2017 than they have been during recent peak periods – even when factoring in the cost of cap and trade.

The changes include the routine quarterly adjustment for the market price of the natural gas commodity – known as the Quarterly Rate Adjustment Mechanism (QRAM) – which has taken place every three months since 2001 and will impact rates for customers of Ontario’s three natural gas utilities – Enbridge, Union Gas and NRG – beginning Jan. 1, 2017.

In addition, the OEB recently granted interim rates for cap and trade and a rate adjustment for utility operations for Enbridge and Union Gas – all of which will impact customer bills in the New Year. Union Gas is also changing its rate zones to better reflect where it buys natural gas from and how it transports it to its customers.

Despite these rate adjustments and the introduction of cap and trade, overall, customers are still paying significantly less than they were at peak periods in 2009 and 2014, when natural gas costs were higher in Ontario due to factors including high market prices and unusually cold weather.

The amount of the increases to customers’ bills will vary between utilities and how much natural gas individual customers use. However, typical residential customers can expect to see their bills rise by between $4.65 and $13.54 on average per month for the year ahead.<!–more–>

The QRAM

The QRAM portion of today’s announcement is a routine rate adjustment – a process that’s been in place since 2001.

As a commodity, natural gas prices fluctuate daily and can change significantly over the course of a year, rising and falling based on factors such as weather and supply and demand.

Every three months, natural gas companies apply to adjust their rates to cover the cost of the market price of natural gas. Adjusting the rates each January 1, April 1, July 1 and October 1 helps smooth the price to shield customers from sharp price swings that can occur on the market. These costs are passed on to customers by utilities without a mark-up.

The latest adjustment takes effect Jan. 1, 2017, reflecting the actual cost of natural gas in the previous four months and a forecast of natural gas market prices for the upcoming year.

Cap and Trade

Another component of this upcoming rate change is the costs associated with the government’s cap and trade program, which takes effect in January.

Enbridge, Union and NRG are required to manage their own business operations and buy allowances to cover the emissions that their customers – including Ontario households and small businesses – produce.

The OEB has granted interim rates for each of the three utilities so they can participate in the cap and trade market and meet the obligations set out in the government’s cap and trade program, which is intended to reduce GHG emissions in Ontario, beginning Jan. 1, 2017. Consumers can participate in the process to decide final rates. For more information visit: OntarioEnergyBoard.ca/notice.

The OEB expects utilities to provide consistent and clear information to their customers to help them understand the cap and trade program and the associated costs. Utilities have a number of channels that they are already using for customer outreach, including websites, bill calculators, call centres and bill inserts.

Both Union Gas and Enbridge have indicated they will be meeting the OEB’s expectation to include an on-bill message about cap and trade, which includes a direct link to information already available about cap and trade costs (i.e. the cost per cubic metre of natural gas and the average cost impact of cap and trade for the typical customer) on their websites.

Rate Adjustments

For Enbridge and Union Gas customers, part of the change is a result of a small rate increase to fund their local operations.

Union Gas Rate Zones

Following review and approval by the OEB, Union Gas has introduced a change in rate zones to better reflect the mix of natural gas supply markets and transportation pipelines available to serve each area. Union Gas is making this change so customer costs in each area are better aligned with the true cost of natural gas supply and the transportation services that serve them.

Resources:

OntarioEnergyBoard.ca
EnbridgeGas.com
UnionGas.com
NRGas.ca

NATURAL GAS RATE CHART – JAN. 1, 2017

The following chart shows the average overall monthly bill impacts in addition to a breakdown of each of the monthly impacts of the OEB’s Quarterly Rate Adjustment Mechanism (QRAM), cap and trade interim rates, as well as a rate adjustment for Enbridge and Union Gas. These totals are based on a typical residential customer for each utility.

Exact impacts will depend on how much natural gas customers use each month.

artsVest™ brings year-long training and $35,000 in matching funds to Oakville’s arts and culture community

Information session for arts and culture groups takes place February 15, 2017

artsVest, a matching incentive and sponsorship training program designed to create partnerships between businesses and arts and culture groups, is coming to Oakville.

The program is offered by Business for the Arts, a national charitable organization that strengthens arts and culture in Canada by building partnerships between the private and cultural sectors. With funding support from the Ontario Trillium Foundation and the Government of Canada, $35,000 in matching funds will be delivered to local arts organizations.

The Town of Oakville will help administer the program, and provide meeting space for an information session and sponsorship workshop on February 15 from 1-5 p.m. at Queen Elizabeth Park Community and Culture Centre. The workshop will be immediately followed by a reception to celebrate the launch of the program.

“Council believes in building bridges and helping establish relationships between various communities and organizations in Oakville,” said Mayor Rob Burton. “By encouraging partnerships between businesses and cultural organizations, the artsVest program helps to foster creativity and culture for everyone to enjoy.”

artsVest works directly with small to mid-sized arts organizations, equipping them with in-depth training, tools and mentorship relationships with private sector businesses. As an added incentive, artsVest participants can apply for matching grants. For every dollar raised in sponsorship, Business for the Arts will match it – doubling their sponsorship opportunity.

“Business for the Arts is thrilled to be bringing the artsVest program to Oakville,” says Aida Aydinyan, vice president of Business for the Arts. “The generous funding and support from the Government of Ontario, the Ontario Trillium Foundation, the Government of Canada and the Town of Oakville speaks volumes to the importance and power of building relationships between the sectors. We look forward to seeing the incredible impact these arts organizations and businesses will have in the town over the next year.”

Arts and culture groups can learn more about the program and apply to participate on the artsVest page.

Snowfall warning in effect for: Burlington – Oakville

From Environment Canada:

3:29 PM EST Sunday 11 December 2016
Snowfall warning in effect for:

Burlington – Oakville
Caledon
Halton Hills – Milton
Mississauga – Brampton
A significant snowfall of 15 cm is expected.

Snow has gradually become heavier across Southern Ontario this afternoon. The snow is expected to intensify further into the evening hours and continue rather heavy at times until well after midnight. It is forecast to become lighter towards morning before tapering off near dawn around the Golden Horseshoe and a little later in the morning farther east.

Commuters can expect a slow go of it on Monday morning as roads are expected to be snow-covered or slushy and potentially slippery. The only exception may be right along the Lake Ontario shoreline where roads may be wet with temperatures slightly above the freezing mark.

This snowfall is attributed to a developing low pressure area which is over Missouri late this afternoon and is tapping moisture from the Gulf of Mexico. It will track across the Great Lakes later tonight before heading into New England on Monday.

Be prepared to adjust your driving with changing road conditions. There may be a significant impact on rush hour traffic in urban areas.

Snowfall warnings are issued when significant snowfall is expected.

Please continue to monitor alerts and forecasts issued by Environment Canada. To report severe weather, send an email to ec.cpio-tempetes-ospc-storms.ec@canada.ca or tweet reports to #ONStorm.

Oakville releases 2017 Budget documents

Staff recommends 1.83 per cent overall tax increase

“The draft budget is consistent with Council’s commitment to keep property taxes in line with inflation,” Mayor Rob Burton said. “It provides the funds necessary to enhance the town’s infrastructure and deliver the high-quality services our residents expect, while keeping our financial future strong, stable and healthy.”

On November 15, 2016, town staff presented Oakville’s proposed 2017 operating and capital budgets to the Budget Committee, achieving Council’s direction to keep the total property tax increase in line with inflation. Town staff recommended a 2.8 per cent increase to the town’s portion of the tax bill for an overall property tax increase of 1.83 per cent when combined with the estimated regional and educational tax levy. The proposed increase would see residential property taxes increase by $15.14 per $100,000 of assessment meaning that the owner of a home assessed at $700,000 would pay an additional $105.98 per year or $2.04 per week.

In the town’s Draft 2017 Operating Budget, staff is recommending a $308.5 million operating budget to provide a wide range of programs and services including maintenance of roads and community facilities, fire services, transit, parks and trails, recreation and culture, senior services, libraries, and a host of other important services. Continue reading Oakville releases 2017 Budget documents

Oakville Ballet’s premiere performances inspire the next generation

After two sold-out premiere performances held mid-September, Oakville Ballet along with Oakville School of Classical Ballet are set for another inspiring year of classical dance, offering up fresh inspiration for the next generation.

“Our young dancers, along with our talented and inspirational guest artists, performed so wonderfully,” said Amanda Paterson, Artistic Director Oakville Ballet.  “The final performance was the culmination of a lot of hard work and determination, a key element in our training with these talented young dancers.”

Oakville Ballet premiered The Kingdom of the Shades excerpt of La Bayadère, and Paquita – Grand Pas Classique and featured over forty young dancers from Oakville and surrounding regions, as well as four professional guest dancers. Klaus Bytzek, the patron and supporter of the production said, “It was such a pleasure to watch these young dancers perform with not only extreme talent but pure joy.” Bytzek continued, “I was also a delighted to hear the audience during intermission and at the end of the performance so inspired by the dancers and the production.”

The performances took place at the Oakville Centre for the Performing Arts and featured a live orchestra led by world-renowned conductor Judith Yan, Artistic Director for the Guelph Symphony Orchestra. Continue reading Oakville Ballet’s premiere performances inspire the next generation