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Michael Mulcahy Op Ed: LNG projects provide benefits to B.C. gas customers

June 15, 2015
Printed in The Province, June 15, 2015

On several occasions over the last few weeks, critics quoted in the media have provided inaccurate information about FortisBC’s LNG-related projects. Most recently they’ve claimed that our LNG projects won’t benefit our customers who heat their homes and cook their food with natural gas.

That’s simply untrue.

The reality is that all of our nearly one million natural gas customers across the province will directly benefit from the development of these projects.

New large industrial customers – including the proposed small-scale Woodfibre LNG facility near Squamish – will be required to pay a rate that both covers the cost of infrastructure upgrades and provides additional financial benefits to help lower natural gas delivery rates for all our customers. In addition, we will have long-term contracts in place with these new large industrial customers, which provide security to mitigate risks to our existing customers.

As a utility, we have a responsibility to ensure reasonable costs for our customers. One of the ways we do this is by exploring new markets for natural gas and making strategic investments to reach new customers. That’s why today, we are capitalizing on strong market demand in LNG – namely as a cleaner fuel for B.C.’s transportation industry and a better energy source for communities both here and abroad.

We operate the only two LNG facilities in B.C. and have decades of experience cooling, storing and transporting natural gas. For more than four decades, our Tilbury LNG facility has safely operated and kept prices lower for our nearly one million gas customers in B.C., adding stored gas to the system during times of high demand or when market prices are high, like the coldest winter days.

Beyond helping to keep gas rates lower for our customers, LNG is having a positive impact on the environment – allowing consumers to shift away from diesel and fuel oil which in turn reduces greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental impacts. 

Fleet operators such as Vedder Transport and Smithrite Disposal are switching their vehicles to natural gas. LNG is also being pursued as a marine fuel. B.C. Ferries recently announced the construction of three new dual-fuel ferries powered by LNG. By switching to natural gas, B.C. Ferries estimates reduced carbon emissions equivalent to taking 1,900 passenger vehicles off the road annually.

Natural gas continues to play a key role in transitioning remote communities to a cleaner fuel. Today, we help local energy providers in Whitehorse and Inuvik offset diesel electricity generation with natural gas through LNG transported from our Tilbury facility by truck. In Revelstoke, we are exploring an opportunity to convert our piped propane system to natural gas, supplied by LNG.

In Hawaii, oil-based power generation is still the norm. Leaders there are looking for ways to reduce emissions and move to a more renewable energy mix. They see natural gas as an important part of the transition. In fact, Hawaiian Electric has signed a conditional agreement to take LNG supply from our Tilbury facility, subject to final approvals in B.C. and Hawaii.

For more than 40 years, our natural gas customers have benefited from liquefied natural gas. And they’ll continue to benefit as we expand our LNG offerings into new markets.

To learn more about the ways that natural gas – and more specifically LNG – will benefit you, visit

Michael Mulcahy is the president and CEO of FortisBC, a regulated utility focused on providing safe, reliable energy, including natural gas, electricity and propane.