Northern Energy Advantage Program Launched by Ontario

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Premier Doug Ford at Resolute Forest Products in Thunder Bay
Premier Doug Ford at Resolute Forest Products in Thunder Bay

Sault Ste Marie – Energy – The Ontario government is strengthening Northern Ontario’s industrial sector by reducing electricity costs through the new Northern Energy Advantage Program (NEAP) so businesses can invest more money in hiring and training workers, and making transformational changes to their operations.

“Under previous governments, energy costs chased good jobs and investment out of Northern Ontario” said Premier Doug Ford. “We are fixing their mistakes and providing companies with the predictable energy costs they need to bring back the jobs and opportunities that the people of Northern Ontario deserve. With these economic conditions in place, Ontario will be unstoppable.’

Large industrial operations in the mining, forestry, and manufacturing sectors in Northern Ontario are energy-intensive, with electricity costs representing a significant proportion of overall costs. The expanded NEAP program will help eligible companies in these sectors better manage electricity costs and create and sustain good jobs in Northern Ontario to maintain global competitiveness. By lowering energy rates for industrial customers in the North – the Ontario government is creating a stronger business climate to attract investment from global markets. This initiative builds on Ontario’s new strategic priorities that have unlocked endless opportunities for international businesses, including critical minerals development, battery assembly and electric vehicle manufacturing.

The government is increasing its investment from $120 million per year to over $176 million by 2025-26. The new program, formerly the Northern Industrial Electricity Rate program, is expanded to allow more businesses to qualify for funding and the $20 million cap for current participants is removed. To encourage businesses to make transformative investments to their operations, such as transitioning to clean technologies, the government has also introduced a new investor class stream that will provide time-limited enhanced energy cost benefits to participants.

“Our government is building an integrated supply chain from exploration to electric vehicles – connecting the Northern and southern Ontario economies for the first time,” said Greg Rickford, Minister of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry. “We have expanded NEAP eligibility so critical minerals and battery materials projects can benefit from the program. With the release of our government’s Critical Minerals Strategy, the new and improved NEAP program could not have come at a better time.”

Algoma Steel is the first company to benefit from the new investor class stream and was provided the energy cost certainty necessary to confidently plan to build an electric arc furnace in Sault Ste Marie – positioning Algoma as a world leader in the production of green, low-emission steel. Enhanced NEAP funding will also allow for the participation of more northern operations coming into production in the future. The new NEAP program will ensure that the government is prepared to support new critical minerals projects and processing capabilities by providing predictable, low energy costs.

“For several generations, our city has relied on Algoma Steel. As our largest employer, Algoma’s success is directly tied to the success of Sault Ste. Marie. Similarly, hard times at Algoma result in hard times for our city, and we have seen our fair share of hard times over the last several decades,” said Ross Romano, MPP for Sault Ste. Marie. “Today’s announcement is about the future of Algoma Steel and the future of our community. It ensures that Algoma Steel will never again suffer the instability of the past. Today’s announcement is about protecting Sault Ste. Marie and our future generation of children, workers and families so that they can build a brighter life for themselves and keep them ‘Home to Stay’.”

“Our government is supporting Northern Ontario’s industrial sectors by reducing energy costs, providing the stability businesses need to support good-paying jobs” said Todd Smith, Minister of Energy. “Today’s announcement reflects our commitment to help key economic sectors like forestry, mining and manufacturing maintain competitiveness and support new investments in the North.”