Enbridge resumes Selwyn Township pipeline project after environmental challenge quashed

Click to play video: 'Selwyn Township businesses potentially out thousands as Enbridge Gas pipeline project halted'
Selwyn Township businesses potentially out thousands as Enbridge Gas pipeline project halted
RELATED: In early December 2023, Selwyn Township businesses were concerned a natural gas line project on 8th Line could be cancelled after an environmental challenge – Dec 7, 2023

Construction will resume this week on a natural gas pipeline expansion project in Selwyn Township, just north of Peterborough, Ont., after an environmental challenge was quashed.

In late November, construction was abruptly halted on the Enbridge Gas pipeline project along the 8th Line (County Road 18) in Selwyn after the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) said it had received an amended motion from Environmental Defence, an advocacy organization.

According to the OEB, Environmental Defence in November challenged that the Selwyn project and two Enbridge pipeline projects — Hidden Valley in Huntsville, and the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte project within Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory — were “flawed” since they failed to provide customer cost comparisons.

Environmental Defence wanted Enbridge to show whether switching to an electric cold-climate heat pump would be more affordable for customers than switching to natural gas.

Story continues below advertisement

The OEB in April 2023 had denied an initial request from Environmental Defence to pay for a cost-comparison study. At the time Environment Defence said it would work on filing evidence.

The OEB gave full approval to all three projects in September. The Selwyn project was deemed “the best alternative to meet the need” of customers, both residential and commercial.

Enbridge halted construction on the 8th Line project on Nov. 28, after initially stating the pipeline service was scheduled to begin on Dec. 1.

A map of the Enbridge Gas natural gas pipeline expansion project on the 8th Line in Selwyn Township.

A review of the motion could take up to 60 days. Enbridge had stated the two-month delay could put the company at financial risk. A number of businesses on 8th Line had already invested thousands of dollars in hookups for the natural gas service.

Story continues below advertisement

The construction halt also prompted Selwyn Township council on Dec. 12 and Peterborough County council on Dec. 13 to issue letters to the OEB, seeking a quick resolution.

However, last week, the OEB stated Environmental Defence withdrew its motion for the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte project on Dec. 13, citing concerns expressed by the First Nation, which had opposed the motion. First Nations leaders had reiterated the project was on treaty land and “as such plays a critical role in the community’s rights to self-determination and ability to govern themselves.”

An OEB review panel also determined that because of the motion withdrawal, it would also impact the Selwyn and Huntsville projects. The panel concluded there were no errors made in the original decision to approve the projects and that it had taken Environmental Defence’s concerns under consideration. Support from each community was also “demonstrative evidence underpinning the genuine interest and willingness of potential customers to avail themselves of natural gas services.”

“In summary, the review panel is not persuaded that the original panel failed to consider Environmental Defence’s submissions on the attachment survey or customer exits,” the panel concluded. “We therefore find no material and clearly identifiable error in the Final Decisions.”

Enbridge stated it would restart construction on the Selwyn project on Dec. 15, but noted it might take a few days to “fully re-mobilize crews and equipment.”

Story continues below advertisement

Sponsored content