Three climate groups filed a false advertising complaint this week against Enbridge Gas’ claim that natural gas is the cheapest form of home heating, just as the Calgary-based utility and pipeline company doubled down on gas with a C$9.4-billion buying spree in the United States.
With gas network expansions in Ontario costing the average consumer $10,000 more than a high-efficiency electric heat pump over the lifetime of the equipment, “Enbridge’s dishonest marketing is duping people into signing up for its gas service,” Environmental Defence Canada Program Director Keith Brooks said in a release.
“Heat pumps have come a long way in recent years,” he added. “They are now the most affordable way to heat a home, and are far superior from an environmental perspective. Enbridge needs to stop lying to people and pushing its fossil gas agenda on communities.”
The filing with the federal Competition Bureau from Environmental Defence, the Ontario Clean Air Alliance, the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment, and individual residents challenges marketing aimed at households in areas where Enbridge has recently expanded its gas distribution network, the release says. It notes that gas heating currently accounts for 19% of Ontario’s greenhouse gas emissions, while triggering methane releases when fracked gas is extracted, produced, and transported.
Methane, the main component of natural gas, is about 84 times more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide over the crucial 20-year time span when humanity will be scrambling to get climate change under control.
“I am outraged by Enbridge’s campaign filled with misleading information about the cost and environmental impact of its polluting product,” Selwyn County, Ontario resident Guy Hanchet said in the Environmental Defence release. A proposed new pipeline in the area “will deliver harmful fossil gas to our residents who will be locked in to higher prices for decades.”
“We have a heat pump installed in our home and know it saves us money,” added Huntsville, Ontario resident Lesley Hastie. “I feel especially sorry for renters who have no choice but to pay more for gas heating and cooling because their landlords chose to connect to gas.”
The false advertising claim landed just two days after Enbridge announced it was spending $9.4 billion to buy three gas pipeline companies in the United States from Virginia-based Dominion Energy, “betting big on the long-term value of natural gas in the energy transition as the world seeks to shift away from more polluting forms of fuel,” the Globe and Mail reports. CEO Greg Ebel called the acquisition of East Ohio Gas Co., Questar Gas Co. and its related Wexpro companies, and Public Service Co. of North Carolina Inc. a “generational opportunity.”
“We remain firmly of the view that all forms of energy will be required for a safe and reliable energy transition,” Ebel said. “This transaction helps to achieve greater balance and gives us increased exposure to natural gas, which is and will continue to be the critical fuel to help realize our lower carbon aspirations.”
The Globe says the new assets will balance Enbridge’s revenues 50-50 between Canada and the U.S. by extending its geographic footprint into Ohio, Utah, Wyoming, Idaho and North Carolina, while making it less dependent on oil.