Okanagan Capacity Upgrade
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.
About this project
The Okanagan Capacity Upgrade project is driven by the increasing demand we are facing as a result of regional growth, and will allow us to meet energy needs now, and well into the future.
This expansion would strengthen our system for approximately 110,000 homes and businesses in the Okanagan that rely on our natural gas service every day.
Flyover of proposed route
This video shows how the project will connecting to our existing system at Ellis Creek (Penticton) and Chute Lake. The majority of project route will be constructed primarily alongside existing FortisBC rights of way to minimize its environmental footprint.
Note: Due to rapid growth in the region the number of homes and businesses that will benefit from the strengthening of our system has increased from 105,000 to 110,000 since the production of this video.
Project timelines and next steps
We filed our application with the British Columbia Utilities Commission (BCUC) on November 16, 2020. 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. Since then, we have been proceeding with regulatory requirements and further engagement with selected stakeholders, First Nations and interested parties. We will continue to provide broad engagement opportunities throughout the duration project.
We anticipate a decision from the BCUC by the end of 2023. If approved, we expect project construction will take place between 2025 and 2026.
At this time, we estimate this project will cost approximately $327 million, which works out to an annual increase of approximately $11.22 per year for the typical, residential customer in 2027 (based on the average customer consuming 90 GJ per year).
Anticipated BCUC decision
May 29, 2023
Field Activities Resuming
Our crews will be resuming field activities along the project’s proposed right of way in June 2023. The first activities will include environmental and archeological surveys which will involve crews walking along the right of way. The archeological sweep will not require excavations, however small shovel sampling may occur.
You can find out the latest project information here.
April 26, 2021
Upcoming survey work along the proposed route
Starting April 26, our crews will be working along the proposed gas line route to gather survey information that supports engineering design, construction and environmental work. This work does not require excavation or ground disturbance, and will assist in the final construction design of the gas line.
November 16, 2020
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.
September 30, 2020
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.
July 31, 2020
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.
April 15, 2020
FortisBC proposes new gas line project to meet Okanagan growth
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 protected].
April 15, 2020
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.
There will be a short presentation about the project at the top of every hour.
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 [email protected]
Why is FortisBC still investing in natural gas instead of exploring cleaner energy solutions?
We see a future where BC’s existing gas and electricity systems are both working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and meet climate action targets—delivering renewable and low-carbon energy like Renewable Natural Gas and hydrogen gas to millions of British Columbians. By injecting these into our distribution system, we can reduce the amount of conventional natural gas needed and progress towards our 2050 vision to replace 75 per cent of the natural gas running through our system with renewable and low carbon gases.
This diversified approach to decarbonized energy will give you the reliable, affordable energy you need for your home or business.
Jul 22, 2022
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.
Jun 11, 2021
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.
Jun 11, 2021
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.
Jun 11, 2021
Can I see a detailed map of the proposed route?
You can view a detailed interactive map at the top of this page. You can also view a detailed flyover video of the proposed route by on the Overview section.
Jun 11, 2021
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 [email protected]. 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 project page.
Feb 25, 2021
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.
Dec 9, 2020
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.
Dec 3, 2020
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.
Dec 3, 2020
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.
Dec 3, 2020
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.
We held two telephone townhalls in April and May 2020, providing the community an opportunity to learn more about the project, ask questions and provide feedback. We’ve included responses to the common questions asked in our Q&As section.
We’ve been engaging with Indigenous communities, local governments and area residents as the project progresses. Materials related to these discussions are available below.