If the Ontario Liberal federal government prepares to phase out natural gas heating as one measure to significantly reduce the province's carbon footprint, then the Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers want to have some input.
Asked Tuesday if such a plan would apply to big natural gas users such as greenhouse operators, OGVG general manager Rick Seguin stated: Good question.
He said it is just speculation up until now about what has come out in Monday’s Globe and Mail story relating to the province s proposed climate modification action strategy.
Our presumption is it affects everyone, however I don't know for sure, Seguin stated.
He stated the Leamington-based OGVG has actually remained in regular examinations with the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change.
But if these things that we see in journalism are actually going to come out, we hope that there will be a consultation period, he added.
When asked exactly what argument the OGVG would make to not have natural gas heat eliminated, Seguin stated, I believe we need to be competitive in a worldwide setting.
He stated greenhouse vegetable growers export a big part of their production, so the market needs to be competitive with the U.S. and with Mexico in certain.
We'd like to be on equal footing with them, Seguin said, including the industry would wish to guarantee any changes wouldn’t leave growers at a cost-effective downside.
If natural gas heating is to be phased out of the greenhouse market, Seguin said alternative sources would have to be looked at, such as wood or biomass.
I would say virtually all (greenhouses) have gas as their primary source of heating, he said, including at the minute.
There's been a lot of investment in the greenhouse sector, including heating unit.
So, they have not necessarily run through their lifecycle, yet, he said. There would be some undercoated costs there still.
Gerard Verbeek, president of Platinum Produce, a big greenhouse operation located near Blenheim, thinks the government will only focus on converting houses from using natural gas heating.
We use a bit more than houses, he quipped, and including the Platinum operation every year invests more than $1 million on natural gas.
I do not think it involves us, Verbeek stated, but he believes people need to smarten this Liberal government up.
The Kathleen Wynne government immediately came under attack by Opposition parties when the climate modification action strategy report was leaked Monday.
Jill Fysh, who operates FlowerBed Greenhouses with her daddy Ron Fysh, said it would be tough to keep the household company going if they didn't use natural gas.
When asked if she had an opportunity to think about exactly what it would cost to operate without natural gas, Fysh said: No, I was hoping this was simply another Wynne stunt that would fly over.
The household operation consists of two greenhouses one in Blenheim and another in Kent Bridge that are both more than 25,000 square feet.
Everything's run by natural gas here, our fans and our boilers, Fysh said.
The Blenheim location has a boiler system, but there is only a natural gas heating unit at their greenhouse in Kent Bridge, she said.
So, to buy a boiler system to heat that would have to do with $20,000 for us, Fysh stated, adding there is likewise the cost of hydro it would require to keep the boiler going year-round.
Sarah Gervais, who runs Demaiter Greenhouses in the Thamesville location with her bros Jeremy and Luke, stated, we use (gas) to warm all our greenhouses, so ideally they're not phasing that out.
She stated the seasonal operation has about 140,000 square feet of greenhouse, growing a variety of veggie plug plants, consisting of tomatoes and peppers.
Gervais stated a lot would need to be thought about prior to they would go through the process of converting the operation to another type of heating system.
It would be a quite big task to alter everything.
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