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Ontario Municipalities Sign Agreement for Natural Gas Services in Rural North

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THUNDER BAY, Ontario — Five rural Ontario municipalities have signed an agreement to secure natural gas service in the region.

Lakeshore Natural Gas, a wholly owned local distribution company of the municipalities of Marathon, Terrace Bay, Schreiber, Manitouwadge and Wawa, Ontario, announced April 21 that it has signed a letter of intent for a long-term gas supply agreement (GSA) with Certarus Ltd. The agreement contracts Certarus for the transportation, storage and supply of compressed natural gas (CNG) for the proposed North Shore Gas project.

The North Shore Gas Project is a $55 million proposal for an innovative mobile energy distribution solution to serve residential, commercial and industrial customers in the five municipalities. Compressing gas for on-road transportation is a safe and cost-effective way for rural and remote communities that are not served by traditional pipelines to get the low carbon energy they need.

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“We are pleased to announce this new agreement with Certarus,” said says Daryl Skworchinski, chief administrative officer (CAO) for Marathon and president of Lakeshore Natural Gas. “In 2020, Lakeshore Natural Gas issued a competitive gas supply procurement process and as a result, selected Certarus and CNG as the preferred options for this project. Our municipalities are confident that we have found a trusted and well-established gas supply partner in Certarus, and that today’s announcement brings us one step closer to delivering this critical energy project for underserviced communities in the north.” 

The North Shore Gas Project is already five years in design and development. The municipalities have advocated the Ontario government for natural gas services to support economic development and relieve the pressure of high heating and energy costs on residents, businesses and industry in rural northern communities.

The proposed project includes the handling, compression, delivery, storage and decompression of CNG by Certarus from the company’s plant in Red Rock to delivery points in each municipality. Following receipt of regulatory approvals and permits, local distribution works will be constructed and operated in each of the five municipalities to deliver natural gas to customers. 

“Certarus specializes in safely delivering low carbon energy wherever our customers need us,” said Curtis Philippon, CEO and president of Certarus. “While the remote location of these municipalities may have made energy security an issue in the past, we are pleased to help them transition to a clean energy future with a safe and secure supply of CNG to fuel their homes and businesses. Together with Lakeshore Natural Gas, we look forward to demonstrating a clear pathway to deliver clean and cost-effective energy to rural communities in Northern Ontario.”

The North Shore Gas Project is anticipated to serve up to 13,000 potential customers, realizing energy costs savings in the hundreds of millions of dollars, as well as reduced GHG emissions for the region.

“The North Shore Gas Project is shovel-ready and we will be seeking the final regulatory and financing approvals in the coming months,” Skworchinski said. “There has never been a better time to invest in clean and efficient energy sources for the north. People are struggling to heat their homes, schools and businesses, and mobile natural gas delivery is the only solution that makes economic and environmental sense.”

If the project is successful in receiving all of the necessary Ontario regulatory approvals in 2021, the full roll-out of the project is proposed to take place over three years (2022 to 2024).

The five proponent Municipalities of Marathon, Manitouwdge, Terrace Bay, Schreiber and Wawa, have jointly incorporated Lakeshore Natural Gas as the operating name for the local distribution company (LDC).  The proposed natural gas distribution system will be owned and operated by the Utility (Lakeshore Natural Gas), a company owned in equal parts, by the five Municipalities.

Certarus is a North American leader in providing low carbon energy solutions through a fully integrated CNG, renewable natural gas (RNG) and hydrogen platform. The company safely delivers clean burning fuels to remote communities and industrial customers not connected to a pipeline. By displacing more carbon intensive fuels, Certarus is leading the clean energy transition and helping customers lower operating costs and improve environmental performance. With the largest fleet of specialty trailers in the world, the company is uniquely positioned to meet the growing demand for low or zero emission fuel distribution.

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