Enbridge pipeline ruptured and sparked a massive fire north of Prince George, B.C. on Oct. 9.(THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Dhruv Desai)

City of Vernon encourages residents to reduce natural gas consumption

FortisBC also asks all customers refocus efforts to conserve natural gas, specifically on colder days when demand increases.

The city has asked residents and businesses in Vernon and the surrounding area to reduce natural gas consumption to help alleviate the current shortfall caused by the Enbridge pipeline rupture.

After the Oct. 9 pipeline rupture, FortisBC called for all customers to reduce their natural gas use. British Columbians responded and natural gas demand quickly dropped about 20 per cent. Now, with temperatures beginning to cool, demand for natural gas is increasing once again and the need for conservation is even stronger.

Related: FortisBC tests ‘virtual pipeline’ following Enbridge explosion

Related: Enbridge says it’s increasing gas flows in repaired B.C. pipeline

“With temperatures dropping, more furnaces across the province are firing up more frequently. While we’ve made strides in improving the gas supply, given the current Enbridge delivery capacity, we simply don’t have access to enough natural gas to accommodate typical winter natural gas demand at this time,” said Roger Dall’Antonia, president and CEO of FortisBC.

Enbridge’s Westcoast T-South transmission system is an integral component of the regional natural gas infrastructure serving B.C. Although Enbridge completed repairs and resumed operation of the damaged line, the system is currently only operating at a substantially reduced operating pressure which translated to about 55 per cent normal capacity for the month of November. At this level, FortisBC would have difficulties meeting demand if temperatures dipped below seasonal norms for several days in a row. This would require FortisBC to access natural gas from storage far earlier in the season than normal as stored gas is typically needed for the coldest days of winter in December and January.

“We’ve been fortunate so far to have been experiencing milder weather throughout the province. This has moderated the demand for natural gas,” said Dall’Antonia, “Mid-November is historically a time when we see temperatures take a downturn and gas demand increase. With the current restricted capacity of Enbridge’s transmission system, we’re concerned about our ability to meet demand through the winter if we don’t reduce our collective draw on the system.”

To help replace lost pipeline capacity, FortisBC is actively working to make more natural gas available for British Columbians through maximizing gas flow through its Southern Crossing pipeline from Alberta, purchasing natural gas from the open market and switching its fleet of compressed natural gas (CNG) capable vehicles back to gasoline during the shortage.

FortisBC is also asking all customers refocus efforts to conserve natural gas, specifically on colder days when demand increases. Small steps such as turning down the thermostat to below 20 degrees and reducing hot water use through shorter showers and using cold water for laundry can help save natural gas. While these may seem like small savings, collectively they add up making a positive impact on the gas supply shortfall.

“At current pipeline capacity, our gas supply may be vulnerable. Any sort of extended period of colder weather could lead to loss of service for major industrial or commercial customers, or even large residential complexes,” said Dall’Antonia, “We need consistent and meaningful conservation across the province as every molecule conserved is gas that can be used to keep homes warm and businesses operating.”

Related: Natural gas rates will go up in B.C. on Jan. 1

Related: Enbridge says it will begin B.C. pipeline cleanup but gives no timeline

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