By Stefan Baranski, Regional Director, Ontario, Energy East
Last Friday marked the deadline for members of the public and stakeholders to submit comments to the Ontario Energy Board (OEB). This process, along with the comments and information captured, will help the OEB prepare an assessment of the Energy East Pipeline project from an Ontario perspective. It is our understanding that many comments were filed. We thank the OEB for their review and welcome this feedback, which shows the interest that Ontarians have in such a critical energy infrastructure project for the province, and our country at large.
The Energy East team has held over 40 open houses in Ontario over the past two years to talk about the jobs and substantial local tax revenues it will generate in the province as well as the measures we will take to ensure we build and operate the pipeline safely. Over 3,000 Ontarians attended these events – from Kenora to Mattawa – and shared incredibly valuable feedback that helped us file our application with the National Energy Board in October 2014.
We understand that there will be those who oppose the Energy East project, and any development of Canada’s oil resources generally, and we respect that. What we strive for is an honest and open conversation about the facts of the project. When it comes to the huge economic benefits for Ontario, we were very clear in our response to the OEB about an opinion they received from the Mowat Centre, a think tank located at the School of Public Policy & Governance at the University of Toronto.
In their opinion, the Mowat Centre concluded that the economic benefits of the project are “likely inflated.” However, three other highly-credible, independent economic assessments by the Conference Board of Canada, Deloitte and the Canadian Energy Research Institute (CERI) filed in the same OEB review process, show the exact opposite.
A material economic impact for Ontario
These three reports concur that Energy East will generate significant economic benefits for Ontario. These benefits include new revenue growth for governments at all levels in the province, the creation of thousands of jobs (4,250 in Ontario alone according to the CBoC) through construction and operation activities, and a material addition to Ontario’s gross domestic product (GDP) over the life of the project.
Mowat’s opinion is shockingly out of step with the on-the-ground reality of those who are closest to the pipeline, and who have many decades of experience dealing with TransCanada and major energy infrastructure projects.
In many northern communities in Ontario, TransCanada is already the largest taxpayer, offsetting the property tax burden of local residents, businesses and industry. The Energy East and Eastern Mainline Projects will add approximately $20 million annually to the property taxes we already pay in Ontario.
Organized labour in Ontario has recognized the huge potential for new training, skills development and jobs, spread over several years, right across the province. So has the UA, which has repeatedly hailed the work opportunities Energy East would create for many Canadians.
Energy East will benefit companies based in Ontario, some of whom have been suppliers of TransCanada for many years. In fact, over 1,100 Ontario companies already support the development of the oil and gas industry in Western Canada. As the clearest example yet, last November, we awarded a contract to General Electric’s Heavy Motors Plant in Peterborough, Ontario. This one contract alone will see the construction of 85 large electric motors to power the first wave of new pump stations along the Energy East route.
In so doing, GE will create an estimated 250 jobs – both at its plant in Peterborough, and in their Central Ontario supply chain. These are real, meaningful jobs for Ontarians as a direct result of Energy East. Some of these jobs will likely be at Steel Works Design, a GE supplier in Peterborough that has publicly backed Energy East, saying the project would bring “direct high-value jobs to our community.”
These are but some of the direct economic benefits that will flow to Ontario as a result of Energy East. And taken together, they better illustrate the on-the-ground reality of those who have a long history dealing with our company and large-scale infrastructure projects.
To date, we have already spent over $30 million in Ontario to support the development of Energy East. This is just a start. Clearly, Energy East is a huge opportunity for Ontario and we look forward to continuing to work with our Ontario partners, from industry, labour, municipalities and first nations communities to realize the full economic benefits of the project.