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Milestone moment as FortisBC launches first ever mobile LNG peak shaving system

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by Alana Purnell and Viviana Zanocco
April 5, 2017

Energy efficiency, Natural gas, Customer service



It’s no secret that the resort community of Whistler is growing – both in terms of size and population. FortisBC is looking at how to reinforce the natural gas distribution system to meet increasing demand in our service territory, so that customers can count on reliable service. The challenge has been how to build outside of the longer winter without impacting lakes and the transportation routes residents and visitors rely on.

Last summer, people from across FortisBC sat down and examined the scenario of a potential extended cold snap and asked: How can we configure the existing system so that our current and newly attached customers continue to receive reliable gas service on those ‘colder than cold’ days? They came up with an initial solution, but the issue was new customers attachments continued to exceed forecasts.

“With continued growth we started to realize quite early on that, come winter, our initial solution likely wouldn’t sustain the system any longer in extreme weather,” says Terry Penner, our System Capacity Planning Manager.

Looking at the magnitude of the issue, our Operations and LNG Technical Services teams joined Terry’s group, and began considering the possibility of LNG peak shaving.  With the additional support from a number of other departments such as Engineering and Project Management, the Whistler Sustainment Project was born.

The idea was to utilize LNG – natural gas in liquid form - in a 12,000 gallon tank and park it at the northern end of the Whistler territory. Then, when needed, the LNG could be gasified to supply the existing lines serving the community. That much natural gas could keep the community going for four SUPER cold days, or ten colder than usual days.

The Operations and Natural Gas for Transportation (NGT) teams worked together to find a suitable location for the tank and the automated system that would serve the community. The NGT team was already looking at ways to supply BC Transit so it could launch a fleet of natural gas buses. Everyone agreed the LNG peak shaving system could be used to supply homes and businesses AND augment the pressure required by BC Transit’s fleet.

BC Transit agreed to host the Whistler Sustainment Project on its site, and the Resort Municipality of Whistler authorized and approved the permits required to ensure it began operating in time for winter.

“This was a huge win for us and for BC Transit,” says Yves Landry, Operations Manager, Metro Region. “There was no immediate benefit for Transit to step up and allow us to set up the station. This project truly speaks to the relationships we have built within our communities, with our stakeholders and with our customers.”​