FortisBC announced today it has launched its renewable natural gas product offering for residential customers in the Lower Mainland, Fraser Valley, Interior and the Kootenays. Eligible customers now have the option of designating 10 per cent of their household’s natural gas usage as renewable natural gas. FortisBC will then inject an equivalent amount of renewable natural gas into its distribution system from local renewable natural gas projects. Customers will be subscribed on a first-come, first-served basis, for about an additional $4 per month, based on an average annual consumption of 95 gigajoules (GJs).
“I want to encourage our customers to sign up for renewable natural gas. By signing up, customers are helping create a more sustainable future for our province, reducing their carbon footprint and supporting a carbon-neutral B.C.-made product,” said Doug Stout, vice president, energy solutions and external relations, FortisBC.
The only portion of the bill that would change for customers who subscribe to renewable natural gas is the cost of gas. Their cost of gas will now be made up of 10 per cent of the renewable natural gas cost and 90 per cent of the standard cost of gas. Subscribers will not be locked into a contract and can opt-out at any time at no cost.
“FortisBC is making it easy for families to choose a greener, more sustainable way to heat and power their homes and take action on climate change,” said Rich Coleman, minister of energy and mines. “This renewable fuel of the future will also help the Province to reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions.”
As renewable natural gas is also considered carbon neutral in B.C., subscribers’ carbon tax will be credited by 10 per cent. FortisBC’s renewable natural gas offering was recently granted Carbon Neutral Product status by Offsetters in B.C., Canada’s leading carbon management solutions provider, after assessing the expected lifecycle emissions savings of the program.
“I commend FortisBC for being the first utility in North America to offer renewable natural gas to residential customers,” said James Tansey, CEO of Offsetters. “It’s an innovative approach that allows their customers to take action on climate change in a simple and cost-effective way.”
Renewable natural gas is created by capturing biogas from sources such as landfills and agricultural waste, and then upgrading it to pipeline-quality gas, before being added to FortisBC’s distribution system. Renewable natural gas is also interchangeable with conventional natural gas, so FortisBC can use its existing pipelines and changes are not required to customers’ appliances. FortisBC estimates that the total greenhouse gas savings in the program’s first year will be about 5,000 tonnes, equal to removing almost 1,000 cars off the road each year or keeping 3.8 million pounds of waste out of landfills, based on delivering 100,000 GJ of renewable natural gas to the FortisBC distribution system.
As additional supply becomes available later this year, FortisBC expects to be able to expand the offering to more residential customers. The company also hopes to be in a position to make the product offering available to commercial customers in 2012 throughout the Lower Mainland, Fraser Valley, Interior and the Kootenays. As a demonstration of potential commercial use of renewable natural gas, Central Heat Distribution Limited (CHDL) recently began purchasing the first 1,000 GJs of their commitment to designate 10,000 GJs of the natural gas in their operations as renewable natural gas from FortisBC. CHDL’s district energy system serves downtown Vancouver businesses and residents, relying on natural gas to generate thermal energy through its natural gas boilers.