Okanagan Capacity Upgrade
About this project
We’re planning to increase our capacity in the Okanagan by adding approximately 30 kilometres of new gas line. This project will be an extension of our existing natural gas system, connecting along Penticton’s eastern border and extending north, just beyond Chute Lake.
As a critical energy infrastructure service we’re continuing to advance projects, such as this upgrade, that support the energy needs of customers and communities while adapting to the challenges of COVID-19.
The Okanagan Capacity Upgrade project is driven by the increasing demand we are facing in the region, and will allow us to meet energy needs now, and well into the future.
This expansion would strengthen our system for approximately 105,000 homes and businesses in the Okanagan that rely on our natural gas service every day.
At this time, we estimate this project will cost approximately $271 million, which works out to an annual increase of approximately $9.00 per year for the typical, residential customer in 2024.
Flyover of proposed route
- 30 kilometres of new gas line driven by increased demand
- extension of existing system will keep pace with regional growth now and into the future
- will also strengthen our system for approximately 105,000 current customers
- connecting to our existing system at Ellis Creek (Penticton) and Chute Lake
- majority of route alongside existing FortisBC rights of way to minimize environmental footprint
Project timelines and next steps
We filed our application with the British Columbia Utilities Commission (BCUC) on November 16, 2020. Interested parties will have until February 4, 2021 to register with the BCUC to be involved.
In April and May 2020, we held telephone town halls where the community could learn more about the project, get their questions answered and provide feedback. We will continue to provide engagement opportunities throughout the project.
We anticipate a decision in late 2021. If approved, we expect project construction will take place between 2022 and 2023.
Major step forward for the Okanagan Capacity Upgrade project
Today marks a major step forward as we file our project application for a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity with our regulator, the British Columbia Utilities Commission (BCUC). The Okanagan Capacity Upgrade project will meet growing natural gas demand in the Okanagan region by adding capacity through approximately 30 kilometers of new gas line.
While preparing to submit our application, we’ve been engaging local governments, Indigenous communities, landowners, and area residents to share details on the project and obtain feedback.
We’re pleased to be one step closer to ensuring our natural gas system keeps pace with growth in the Okanagan. If approved, we anticipate construction will take place between 2022 and 2023.
To learn more about the BCUC process and how you can get involved, visit bcuc.com.
Wildfire delays some early engineering work
Due to the Christie Mountain wildfire in August, we experienced some work delays along our proposed route in the Penticton Creek area. Activities on the southern side of the creek resumed shortly after the wildfire was brought under control. However, in early October we will be conducting some 24-hour activity on the northern side of Penticton Creek to make up for lost time.
We expect to complete the 24-hour work within approximately one week. Those in the Sendero Canyon neighbourhood may experience some small vibration and noise levels during this activity. We appreciate the community’s patience as we complete this work safely, quickly and with as minimal disruption as possible.
We anticipate all of the above work will be completed by mid-October.
Early works along the route
We will be conducting some early engineering work along the proposed route in August, as we prepare to submit our application for this project.
In the Penticton Creek area, work will start the week of August 10, 2020. Our crews will be evaluating the ground and soil conditions to help determine the best construction method to cross the creek. In this area, residents in the Sendero Canyon neighbourhood may notice some larger equipment and machinery. We anticipate a degree of small vibration and noise levels comparable to normal construction. This work will occur over approximately four weeks from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Saturday, and from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays.
Other work taking place will involve small digs along sections of the proposed route and within our existing rights of way, including in the Mount Campbell area and nearby to Smethhurst, Arawana Forestry, and Chute Lake roads. This work will occur in early August, over approximately one day in each location.
We appreciate the community’s patience as we complete this work safely, and as quickly as possible.
Telephone town halls
We’re hosting two telephone town halls as part of our community engagement on the Okanagan Capacity Upgrade Project. These town halls will be an opportunity for the community to learn more about the project, get their questions answered and provide feedback.
Please join us:
Thursday, April 30, 2020, 5 to 8 p.m.
Conference ID: 3639199
Wednesday, May 6, 2020, 3 to 6 p.m.
Conference ID: 4575204
There will be a short presentation about the project at the top of every hour.
Register for a town hall now.
Can’t join us for a town hall?
Ask us a question or provide your feedback by phone or email.
Call us at 1-888-592-7704
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
FortisBC proposes new gas line project to meet Okanagan growth
SURREY, B.C. – Today, FortisBC Energy Inc. (“FortisBC”) is announcing the Okanagan Capacity Upgrade project, an expansion of our natural gas system in the Okanagan. As we adapt together to the unprecedented challenges of COVID-19, FortisBC is continuing to advance critical projects, such as this upgrade, to support the everyday energy needs of customers and communities.
The Okanagan Capacity Upgrade project is driven by the increasing demand we will be facing in the region over the next five years. It proposes 30 kilometres of new gas line that would connect to our system along Penticton’s eastern border and extend north towards Chute Lake. This extension will add crucial capacity that will meet demand both now, and well into the future.
The project is still in the early planning stages, as FortisBC prepares an application for a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) to our regulator, the British Columbia Utilities Commission. The application is expected to be filed this year.
If approved, the Okanagan Capacity Upgrade project would:
- Strengthen our system for approximately 90,000 homes and businesses in the Okanagan that rely on our natural gas service every day
- Meet growth in regional demand, with some communities expected to grow by up to 40 per cent in the next 20 years
- Begin construction as early as 2021 and be operational by 2023
As we navigate the current public health emergency, FortisBC is committed to ongoing opportunities for meaningful engagement with local governments, Indigenous communities, and residents as we progress towards our CPCN application. Opportunities for upcoming engagement include two telephone town halls on April 30 and May 6, 2020.
To learn more about the Okanagan Capacity Upgrade project, including details on the upcoming telephone town halls, visit the project webpage at talkingenergy.ca/okanagan. Alternatively, interested parties can connect with us at 1-888-592-7704 or by email at email@example.com.
Partnering with Communities
We’re committed to the South Okanagan and are pleased to be active in these communities where we live and work. In addition to regularly engaging residents and Indigenous communities on our services and energy infrastructure, we’re committed to investing in and supporting the region in a variety of ways.
This includes contributing to, and participating in, local community events such as the Pow Wow Between the Lakes event in Penticton—a celebration of the culture and traditions of the Syilx (Okanagan) people. We’ve also supported community projects such as the Three Blind Mice Trails Improvement Project—an initiative headed by the Penticton and Area Cycling Association to develop mountain bike trails in the region.
As project planning continued, we built on this relationship by signing a three-year funding partnership with PACA to maintain and improve safety on local bike trails. Read more about this partnership and the trained regional area trail stewards who began upgrades to the Bronco Trail in summer 2020. We’ll continuing exploring other opportunities to partner with the local community as the project progresses.
Why build the Okanagan Capacity Upgrade project?
The Okanagan Capacity Upgrade project is a necessary extension of our existing system driven by growth in the region, with some communities expected to grow by up to 40 per cent in the next two decades. This project would add capacity for the Okanagan through approximately 30 kilometers of new gas line, based on five-year demand forecasts and continued regional growth.
Adding this gas line will give us greater flexibility in how we direct gas within our system. This will help ensure we have enough supply to serve all communities connected to our regional system, even when operating at peak demand.
Why are you proceeding with this project and consultation during COVID-19?
As a critical infrastructure service provider, we have had to adapt to the challenges of COVID-19, just like everyone else. For us, this means continuing to advance critical projects, such as this upgrade, to support the everyday energy needs of customers and communities.
We recognize the importance of keeping the public informed every step of the way. That is why we are engaging the community now and we will continue to do so throughout the life of the project.
Why aren’t you building the gas line within the same right of way as the existing gas line?
For safety, as we need to maintain certain distances from our existing infrastructure. Our intent behind installing the new gas line alongside existing FortisBC gas and electric rights of way has been to minimize our environmental footprint and confine our infrastructure to a single utility corridor, where possible.
Who will benefit from the project?
This project will benefit all of our customers throughout the Okanagan by strengthening our interior transmission system. This will help ensure we have enough supply to serve all communities connected to our regional system, even when operating at peak demand.
Will this project service new properties not currently connected to FortisBC’s natural gas system?
This project is a high-pressure gas line that would increase the capacity of our system while meeting projected growth in the Okanagan. The gas line would not directly connect to individual properties. However, residents and businesses interested in becoming customers can explore this option by contacting customer service at 1-888-224-2710.
Why does the route run alongside existing rights of way in some places, but not others?
For the project as a whole, the intent has been to minimize our environmental footprint by constructing the new gas line alongside existing FortisBC rights of way. In some areas, this is not possible, whether due to constructability, sites of archeological significance or other limiting factors.
We’ve been working to gather feedback from affected groups and the broader community to better understand their needs with respect to the project, and will continue to do so as the project progresses.
Where would the new gas line be built?
The new gas line would be built in the South Okanagan, connecting to our system along Penticton’s eastern border and extending north, just beyond Chute Lake.
How much will this project cost?
We estimate this project will cost approximately $271 million. This works out to an annual increase of about $9.00 per year for the typical, residential customer in 2024—or approximately 75 cents per month.
Can I see a detailed map of the proposed route?
You can view a detailed interactive map at the top of our webpage on talkingenergy.ca/Okanagan. You can also view a detailed flyover video of the proposed route by vising the Project Overview section of our webpage.
How do I get more information on the project?
You can call our project phone number 1-888-592-7704 or contact us through our project email address at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are more than happy to discuss the project with you and respond to any inquiries you may have. You can also find more information on the project by viewing the other sections of our webpage at talkingenergy.ca/Okanagan.
We’ve been engaging with Indigenous communities, local governments and area residents as the project progresses. Materials related to these discussions are available below.
We continue to be early in the project as we await a decision on our application from our regulator, the British Columbia Utilities Commission (BCUC), which we anticipate for late 2021.
- Telephone town hall presentation (April/May 2020)
- Information card (April 2020)
- Project launch information bulletin (April 2020)
We filed our application with our regulator, the British Columbia Utilities Commission (BCUC), on November 16, 2020. We are now awaiting a decision on this application, which we anticipate in late 2021.