THUNDER BAY – “Our government is proud to provide support to the forest industry – one of Ontario’s economic drivers. I am certainly pleased that we have extended our commitment for the NIER program for another 3 years. There is no doubt that this program is essential to job creation and economic prosperity in Northern Ontario,” enthused the ever optimistic Michael Gravelle, the Minister of Natural Resources. The Minister us currently undergoing chemotherapy fighting cancer and looking good despite the impact of the treatments.
Subject to annual program funding approvals, the province intends to extend a revised Northern Industrial Electricity Rate (NIER) program for three years – commencing 2013/14 – to support continued growth and development in northern resource and manufacturing sectors.
Bill Mauro, the MPP for Thunder Bay Atikokan said, “The success of local resource sector companies means high-value jobs and continued investment in our community. This vital program addresses fundamental barriers to this investment, ensuring our economy remains strong and stable.”
Under the proposed extension, eligible current participants in the NIER program (industrial companies in Northern Ontario) could continue to receive a rebate of two cents per kilowatt-hour to a maximum of the lesser of 2011-12 eligible consumption levels, or to a maximum of $20 million per company, per year — subject to revised program rules and entering amended program agreements.
“The extension of the NIER program is an important step forward. The Province of Ontario has recognized the importance of affordable electricity pricing and established programs resulting in an attractive environment for companies like Resolute to invest for the future. Over the past 18 months, Resolute has announced over $125 million in capital spending for our mills in Northern Ontario. We compete in a challenging marketplace and controlling rising energy costs is a critically important factor in achieving sustained profitability,” commented Richard Garneau, President and Chief Executive Officer, Resolute Forest Products
“Within the current fiscal climate, our government recognizes the unique needs of northern industry. The NIER program helps lower costs and increase energy efficiency for some of Northern Ontario’s major resource sector producers and employers – helping sustain good-paying jobs, helping reduce environmental impacts and boosting investment in our North, ” added Rick Bartolucci, Minister of Northern Development and Mines.
The issue of high energy prices has been a subject of debate within the Ontario Liberal leadership contest. “For energy intensive industry, high energy prices are a serious barrier to investment. NIER helps keep Northern Ontario companies competitive with those in other jurisdictions; and thus, helps generate continued investment in our North,” commented Chris Hodgson, President, Ontario Mining Association.