Inland Gas Upgrades
About this project
We’re upgrading 29 sections of our existing natural gas lines located in communities in the Northern, Thompson-Okanagan, Cariboo and Kootenay regions of BC.
Why we’re upgrading these lines
All of these lines have an excellent record for both safety and reliability, even the many that have been in operation since the 1950s. These upgrades, combined with our ongoing inspection and maintenance activities, will make sure these lines continue to provide safe, reliable service for many years to come. In many cases, these upgrades will allow us to inspect the inside of the gas lines using up-to-date in-line inspection equipment. This inspection method provides detailed information about the condition of each line and will allow us to better plan and manage maintenance work.
Some of this work will require us to upgrade lines to reduce bends and replace fittings that could block the in-line inspection equipment. In some cases, this work will require us to replace gas lines. In other cases, we will regulate the pressure in sections of our system. While the vast majority of this work will take place on existing rights of way, it could mean construction will take place in your community or surrounding areas. We are committed to engaging with communities we serve and keeping our customers informed during every step of this process.
Project timelines and next steps
We first identified the need for these upgrades in 2014 and since that time, we’ve completed the preliminary planning, assessments and consultation needed to seek approval to move forward. We submitted an application to our regulator, the British Columbia Utilities Commission (BCUC) in 2018, and received approval in January 2020.
Work will begin throughout the summer and fall of 2020. We anticipate work will be complete by 2024.
We look forward to proceeding with this significant investment in our natural gas system. We expect the total cost to be an estimated $360 million and the average rate impacts over the course of the project to be minimal.
2020 construction locations
All construction in 2020 is to enable the use of up-to-date in-line inspection equipment. This technology will allow us to inspect the inside of gas lines, providing detailed information about the condition of each line, which will help us to better plan and manage maintenance work.
To make these upgrades, we’ll be working at various locations along our gas lines in the Mackenzie, Cranbrook and Sparwood areas.
This work will continue into future years and details will be provided as the project progresses.
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- southwest of Mackenzie, and further south along FortisBC right of way toward Highway 97, ending slightly east of the Mackenzie Visitor Centre
- Distance: 29 kilometres
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- sections in the Gold Creek area, including near the southeastern border of Cranbrook, and further south toward Caven Creek Road
- Distance: 34 kilometres
As an essential service, we’re continuing to move projects forward that support the energy needs of our customers while adapting to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. These upgrades are part of this critical work, so that we can continue providing the reliable service residents and businesses count on.
Safety is at the heart of everything we do. While working in the community, our crews will continue to take appropriate physical distancing measures to ensure their safety, as well as the safety of area residents.
On the rare occasion physical distancing isn’t possible, our crews will have access to additional personal protective equipment such as respiratory, eye and hand protection, to further reduce the risk of infection.
Construction to begin on major project
FortisBC is beginning construction for this major project in the Mackenzie, Cranbrook, and Sparwood areas. These upgrades will enhance our ability to carry out proactive maintenance on our infrastructure.
Construction is scheduled to begin in August 2020, and continue through the fall of this year. Most work at this time will be rural and largely take place on existing FortisBC rights of way. There will be a small amount of construction next to highways and other public roads. In these cases area residents may see our traffic control personnel as they work to minimize any potential impacts. Overall, we expect to be in the Mackenzie and Cranbrook areas for approximately three years during seasonal construction windows, and in the Sparwood area over approximately five years during seasonal windows as work moves north within the Elk Valley.
For maps that indicate work site locations this year, see our project overview page.
For the project as a whole, upgrades will occur across 18 communities in the Northern, Cariboo, Thompson-Okanagan, and Kootenay regions of B.C. We look forward to keeping communities informed on future upgrades across these regions.
Preparation activities in Mackenzie, Cranbrook and Sparwood
We are preparing for our first phase of construction in and around the Mackenzie, Cranbrook, and Sparwood areas this summer. In order to create the space and access needed for our contractors and materials, we will be undertaking some preparation activities. These may include surveying and vegetation clearing; fence and scrap removal; and road access improvements. We are also conducting bird surveys throughout these communities, and are committed to carrying out all work in an environmentally responsible manner. Most of this work will be in rural areas and will take place in June and early July.
With safety at the core of everything we do, we are actively monitoring the developments around COVID-19. If you see our workers or contractors in the field, they are working to ensure that your home and community will continue to receive the energy it depends on safely and reliably, for years to come.
Inland Gas Upgrades receive BCUC approval
Today, the British Columbia Utilities Commission (BCUC) granted a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) to FortisBC to move forward with our Inland Gas Upgrades project. This project will enhance our ability to carry out proactive maintenance on our gas system by enabling the use of in-line inspection technology. Work will occur in 18 communities, from Mackenzie to southern B.C. and the Kootenays, with the vast majority of work taking place within existing rights of way. This project will ensure our natural gas lines continue to provide safe, reliable service for many years to come.
The first phase of construction is anticipated to begin this year, including work in proximity to Mackenzie, Cranbrook, Sparwood and Elkford. As the project progresses, we will continue to provide updates to the communities where work will occur.
Major milestone achieved
After years of planning, assessments and consultation, we’ve submitted an application for approval to our regulator, the BC Utilities Commission (BCUC) in December 2018.
This project will represent a significant investment into BC’s natural gas system and we’re pleased to have achieved this major milestone in moving it forward. If approved, we expect work to take place between 2020 and 2024.
Want to know more about the BCUC process and how you can get involved? Find out at bcuc.com.
Dig a little, learn a lot
From now until the end of August, you may see crews working on behalf of FortisBC doing survey and small excavation work around our rights of way in several areas of the province, including in Cranbrook, Skookumchuck, Kimberley and Mackenzie.
This work will help us verify details of the lines that will enable us to continue planning the Inland Gas Upgrades project.
It’s an important and regular part of the work we do, every day, to properly and effectively plan all of our construction projects.
If you have any questions, please call our project phone line at 1-855-576-7225 or email us at email@example.com.
Exploring rights of way for habitat and heritage
Native species, waterways and heritage sites—these are just a few of the reasons we work with certified professionals to explore potential project sites early on, long before any shovel hits the ground. As part of our planning for the proposed Inland Gas Upgrades, from now until the end of June, our consultants are studying our rights of way in rural and back country areas in many interior regions of BC. Qualified environmental professionals and permitted archaeologists are developing site overviews for each gas line. This work is being done in consultation with local Indigenous communities where possible. If the project is approved by the British Columbia Utilities Commission, this information will determine where further study may be needed, what permits will be required and ensure we handle sensitive areas with care. If you have any questions, please call our project phone line at 1-855-576-7225 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Communities where work will take place
We’re committed to engaging with Indigenous groups, local communities and other stakeholders as we move forward with construction work on the Inland Gas Upgrades. We’re also committed to supporting those communities where we live and work. One way we’re doing this is by hiring local businesses, and workers, where possible.
In 2020, work will take place in the following communities and surrounding areas:
Over the course of the project, work will take place across 18 communities in the Northern, Thompson-Okanagan, Cariboo and Kootenay regions of BC, including:
- Salmon Arm
- Prince George
- Williams Lake