FortisBC’s Long-Term Gas Resource Plan is a roadmap that helps meet BC’s future energy needs
December 15, 2017 by Ken Ross
Our customers are looking to us to provide leadership in delivering safe, reliable and cost-effective energy and providing innovative solutions to climate change challenges, such as reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and shrinking the carbon footprints of BC homes and businesses. FortisBC’s Long-Term Gas Resource Plan identifies many initiatives that, together, could help meet these objectives.
Ensuring our customers have the energy they need—now and in the future
The LTGRP supports the company’s vision by forecasting the future energy needs of British Columbians. One of FortisBC’s main objectives is to provide our customers with natural gas at the lowest reasonable cost. A key component of this plan is to manage delivery costs, which makes energy more affordable for all of our customers.
One way we’re doing this is by seeking new uses for natural gas. We will continue to distribute natural gas to heat homes and businesses in rural and urban communities. At the same time, we will look for opportunities to fuel ships and heavy-duty vehicles with natural gas as an alternative to higher-emitting fossil fuels. We also continue to explore exporting liquid natural gas to help reduce GHGs around the globe. Developing new markets increases the use of our existing infrastructure, and that helps keep delivery rates stable for our customers in the long term.
Reducing our impacts today while planning for tomorrow
Energy and emissions policies in North America are rapidly evolving as the popularity of natural gas grows. At the same time, our customers tell us they want to use natural gas more efficiently, both to reduce emissions and costs—and we’re committed to helping them. We are working with customers, communities and governments so that we can meet climate targets now, and 20 years from now.
FortisBC’s Conservation and Energy Management (C&EM) program helps customers reduce their natural gas consumption, and the program’s forecast shows significant energy and GHG emissions reductions can be achieved in the next 20 years as customers move to higher efficiency technology. We were also the first utility in North America to offer a Renewable Natural Gas (RNG) program to residential customers. It extracts the methane from landfill and agricultural waste, cleans it up, and pipes it back in to FortisBC’s system, creating a carbon-neutral fuel. FortisBC intends to expand our RNG supply in the next 20 years.
The future is now
Our company is constantly exploring innovative low-carbon solutions to meet BC’s future energy needs. The rate at which new technologies are developed is accelerating and recent breakthroughs are pushing natural gas into a key role in a low-carbon, affordable energy mix. We know things will change dramatically in the next two decades and we plan to be at the forefront of energy innovations. In the meantime, some of the exciting opportunities we are exploring include:
- Innovations in biogas that could boost our supply of RNG to between 25 and 46 per cent of FortisBC’s annual natural gas demand by 2036;
- Power-to-gas, the process of converting renewable electrical power into carbon neutral hydrogen gas, could account for between five and 15 per cent of annual demand by 2036;
- Carbon capturing, such as the CleanO2 technology for commercial heating that FortisBC is testing in a pilot program, may curb GHG emissions without changing the carbon intensity or annual demand of natural gas; and
- Natural gas-fired heat pumps that could increase the efficiency of appliances beyond 100 per cent and greatly reduce carbon emissions.
Knowing where we are now and where we want to go is why FortisBC developed the LTGRP—it’s a roadmap that will guide us as we continue to provide safe, reliable and cost-effective energy to our customers now and in the future.
Ken Ross is FortisBC’s Manager, Integrated Resource Planning and DSM Reporting.