Kitchener Utilities will be included in new energy retrofit program, says MPP Daiene Vernile

Kitchener residents will be able to apply for the provincial energy retrofit fund, but the fine details are still being worked out, said Kitchener Centre MPP Daiene Vernile.

Retrofit fund initially open only to Union Gas and Enbridge Gas customers

Anyone in Ontario who uses natural gas in their homes will be able to take part in a provincial energy retrofit program, even if they are not customers of Enbridge or Union Gas, confirmed Kitchener Centre MPP Daiene Vernile.

On Thursday, the province announced a new $100 million home energy retrofit program to upgrade furnaces, water heaters and insulation. 

The government said the fund was in partnership with Union Gas and Enbridge Gas, and a Ministry of Energy spokesperson confirmed to CBC News that it was "working with Enbridge and Union to explore opportunities to offer the program in communities outside of Union and Enbridge service territories."

People living in Cambridge, Waterloo and the townships get natural gas from Union Gas but Kitchener residents are serviced by municipally-run Kitchener Utilities.

"I made some calls to the Ministry of Energy and I can assure you that Kitchener homeowners who use natural gas and who want to take advantage of these energy savings will be able to do so and I have confirmation from the ministry of energy on that," Vernile said in an interview with CBC News on Monday.

"I think what is unique is that the City of Kitchener is in a position like the City of Kingston where they are smaller, locally owned utilities. Ninety-seven per cent of homeowners who use natural gas in Ontario are serviced by either Union Gas or Enbridge.

"These other communities that are outside Enbridge and Union Gas are serviced on their own but I can assure they are going to be included in the retrofits."

Announcement surprised local utility

On Friday, Kitchener Utilities general manager Wally Malcolm told CBC News he was unaware of the provincial program and was surprised when Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic sent staff a media release about it.

"We had no indication this program was even being looked at," Malcolm said, adding staff were contacted Union Gas to find out more information to see if there was a way local customers could also sign up.

Details to come

Exact details about how the program will work and when it will begin are still being worked out, Vernile said.

"The province is working on the project details now and that is going to be released in the coming month," she said.

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