How BC stepped up to turn down the heat

December 20, 2018 by Nicole Brown

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We asked and BC responded. When natural gas supply became limited last month following the rupture of an Enbridge transmission line, we had to ask our customers to reduce their natural gas use and the response has been tremendous.

“With our deep roots in communities across the province, we already have a healthy appreciation for the community spirit that exists here,” said Doug Stout, vice president, market development and external relations, FortisBC. “But we are truly overwhelmed and thankful for all the tremendous support we’ve received from customers, both large and small.”

Cities, schools and business organizations all took steps to conserve and helped reduce overall demand by about ten per cent in November. Conservation efforts allowed us to maintain storage levels to ensure it will be available on the coldest days we typically see in mid-December through January. Thanks to these conservation efforts, coupled with Enbridge’s pipeline returning to 85 per cent operating capacity and mild winter weather, BC’s natural gas supply outlook is more optimistic.

We appreciate everyone’s conservation efforts, and as always, we encourage customers to continue to be mindful of their energy use.

Below is just a sampling of the many great actions that took place across the province.

Saving at cities, communities and regional districts

As soon as the call went out, building managers in cities across the province took action by lowering the temperatures and shortening the heating cycles in their buildings and facilities, from city halls to swimming pools. Just a few of the notable savers include Abbotsford, Burnaby, Port Coquitlam, Prince George and Kelowna.

“We took a look at our own operations buildings first and public facilities second,” explained Martin Johanssen, manager, building services, City of Kelowna. “We also took a close look at any of our non-essential loads.”

For example, the natural gas fire pit that traditionally warms up skaters at Kelowna’s Stuart Park rink will remain off this winter to conserve natural gas for more critical uses.

Communities also shared information about the need to save with their citizens. While individual savings may be small, collectively these added up to significant amounts of natural gas that helped keep homes warm and businesses working.

Cool schools

Energy managers at school districts and post-secondary institutions were among the first to answer the call for conservation. They immediately set to work by reducing temperatures on campuses and asking their students to bundle up.

The Richmond School District not only lowered the temperature in their approximately 50 buildings, but also sent materials to their teachers and students about the need to conserve and reached out to all the energy managers at school districts across the province to encourage them to do the same. The Vancouver School Board also sent letters to all of their principals to encourage them to participate.

BC’s post-secondary institutions also took action. EnergyWise, the network of post-secondary energy managers in BC, coordinated their efforts to encourage conservation.

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Thi Nguyen and Poroshat Assadian, Richmond School District, have been extremely helpful in encouraging conservation and we’re grateful for their ongoing efforts and the efforts of all our customers to reduce where possible.

The business of conserving

Business organizations also stepped in to help share the information with their members from across the province. Both the BC Chamber of Commerce and LandlordBC spread the word to their members in their recent newsletters. The Business Improvement Areas of BC were very proactive in sharing the message with their 53 member organizations. They updated their website with the information, put out multiple posts on their social media channels and even updated their Facebook and web page cover photos to help encourage their members to conserve.

Thank you to all of our customers who conserved natural gas where possible.

We will continue to update you throughout the winter on the status of BC's gas supply. For the most up-to-date information visit our  website or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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