Enbridge says a planned survey of Ontario customers requesting feedback on heat pumps versus new gas hookups should be rejected because the federal carbon price could be repealed.

“As Canada draws closer to the next federal election on or before Oct. 20, 2025, the Conservative Party of Canada — which has been leading most federal election opinion polls since mid-2023 — opposes a federally imposed carbon tax or cap-and-trade system, including the current federal carbon charge,” Enbridge told the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) regulator on Jan. 18.

Enbridge has applied to the OEB to expand its gas grid across the province in communities like Bobcaygeon, Sanford, Eganville and Neustadt. Hearings into the expansion plans began over a year ago and are ongoing.

Since the hearings began, the survival of the carbon price, a key plank of the reigning federal Liberal party’s climate policy, has been seriously jeopardized. Since its adoption in 2019, it has been under fire from Conservatives, but as cost-of-living issues become more important to voters, it is now under immense pressure from the right-wing and beyond.

At the hearings, Enbridge noted that since the federal government paused the carbon price on home heating oil in November, several premiers have begun calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government to remove the carbon price on all forms of home heating, which includes gas. Enbridge even cites Saskatchewan’s decision to break federal law by not collecting the carbon price from customers as evidence the policy is under threat.

Enbridge has filed its own evidence with the regulator showing demand for gas is growing, but not everyone finds the evidence credible.

That’s why climate advocacy group Environmental Defence wants to inform residents about the environmental and cost benefits of heat pumps versus gas hookups and collect feedback to provide the regulator with customer preference information that doesn’t come from Enbridge.

But the gas giant is arguing the proposed survey should be inadmissible because Environmental Defence didn’t say it would inform customers about the possibility the carbon price could be repealed. If that happens, it would slightly change the cost-benefit analysis of customers switching to heat pumps, Enbridge stated.

In a letter to the OEB, Kent Elson on behalf of Environmental Defence said the group would like to retain a public opinion research firm to carry out community surveys to “gauge the likely number of [gas] connections and to test the survey and customer connection forecast evidence submitted by Enbridge.” That potential survey would offer residents more information, include annual costs of having gas versus heat pumps, and ask customers their likelihood of switching between sources.

“It's unfortunate that Enbridge seems to be banking on a repeal of carbon pricing, and that they don't want a survey out there that talks up the benefits of heat pumps, both from an economic perspective and an environmental perspective.” #onpoli

“By providing the survey respondents with accurate and unbiased information, we believe the survey would produce much more robust results on which to estimate the number of customers that are likely to connect to the gas system,” Elson wrote. “In the very least, it would provide the OEB with a different perspective from Enbridge’s.”

Despite the Trudeau government repeatedly stating there will be no further exemptions on the carbon price, Enbridge doesn’t buy it.

“There exists real political and public policy risk regarding the federal carbon charge, as changes relating to its application have already transpired and more changes are possible,” Enbridge wrote.

Because Environmental Defence didn’t say it planned to alert customers to these political risks, Enbridge argues the survey would be biased against gas. But evidence before the regulator contradicts Enbridge’s claims. Even without a carbon price on gas, heat pumps are already more affordable than gas over the life of the equipment.

Enbridge did not return a request for comment.

Environmental Defence programs director Keith Brooks told Canada’s National Observer it appears Enbridge is “pursuing any and all means to be able to continue to expand its gas network and hook up new customers to gas.”

“It's unfortunate that Enbridge seems to be banking on a repeal of carbon pricing and that they don't want a survey out there that talks up the benefits of heat pumps, both from an economic perspective and an environmental perspective,” he said.

The regulatory skirmish comes as Enbridge attempts to gain approval for a multibillion-dollar expansion plan to be paid for by existing customers through higher gas rates.

Last month, the regulator ordered that developers pay upfront for the cost of new gas infrastructure rather than putting customers on the hook, as a way to protect ratepayers through the energy transition. But the day after that ruling, Ontario Energy Minister Todd Smith pledged to throw his government’s weight behind reversing the order in a move experts told Canada’s National Observer would push up the cost of building new homes.

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ENVIRO DEFENCE ! take the government to court. get an injunction to stop enbridge charging customers till court case is resolved. even in the last five years, the attitude of courts considering climate cost has shifted a LOT. i relish seeing what the court would have to say to doug and the destroyers about working for the PUBLIC GOOD not corporate profit. hmmmmm