Looking back at 2020 and forward to a brighter future

Looking southwest over Kelowna and Okanagan Lake
/ Community

With a new year on the horizon, it’s only natural for people to reflect on where we’ve been and where we’re going. At FortisBC, we’re like you – taking stock of what we’ve accomplished and what lies ahead.

As the foremost energy provider to 1.2 million British Columbians, we have an opportunity to advance a cleaner energy future for our province. In 2019, we announced our aim with the 30BY30 target to reduce our customers’ greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent by the year 2030. And we’ve started on the path.

We are in the process of planning and implementing a number of projects to ensure our gas system can safely and reliably store and deliver energy when you need it.

Building new gas lines to keep you connected

The Okanagan region is booming, with some communities expected to grow up to 40 per cent in the next two decades. We are planning a new natural gas line in the region to help meet this growth and strengthen our system for our more than 100,000 existing Okanagan area customers. The Okanagan Capacity Upgrade involves building about 30 kilometres of new gas line in the South Okanagan between Penticton and Chute Lake. We filed our application with the British Columbia Utilities Commission (BCUC) on November 16, 2020. We anticipate a decision in late 2021, and, if approved, we expect project construction will take place between 2022 and 2023.

Our Pattullo Gas Line Replacement project is focused on replacing our gas line that has been attached to the Pattullo Bridge since the 1950s. The provincial government plans to replace the bridge, and current Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure design standards prevent us from running a gas line on the new bridge. We are looking at ways to build a new line in Burnaby, ensuring continued supply of natural gas to more than 35,000 homes and businesses in the area. The project is in the planning and regulatory stage, including discussions with stakeholders, Indigenous groups and communities. We submitted an application to the British Columbia Utilities Commission (BCUC) on August 31, 2020. Construction is expected to take place in 2022 to meet the bridge’s decommissioning schedule.

In mid-November, we filed our Application for a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity for the Okanagan Capacity Upgrade Project with our regulator, the BCUC. We are one step closer to ensuring our natural gas system keeps pace with growth in the Okanagan.

Atul Toky

manager, regulatory projects, FortisBC

Maintaining our gas line system to the highest standards

FortisBC’s gas line system needs to evolve alongside BC and in step with the latest technology available.

We have rigorous safety standards and practices in place to ensure the ongoing integrity of our system and gas lines – and to make sure you keep getting the natural gas service you expect as a customer.

Bulldozer sits on a hill along a right of way clearing

This year we started construction on the Inland Gas Upgrades project to support the use of proven in-line inspection tools that can help us better plan and manage future maintenance. The inspection tools let us gather detailed information about the condition of our lines. The project will upgrade 29 natural gas lines in the Northern, Thompson-Okanagan, Cariboo and Kootenay regions.

We have also proposed the Coastal Transmission System Upgrades project that will use similar technology in our Lower Mainland transmission lines. The project will include upgrades to a number of gas lines and facilities that will allow us to run in-line inspection tools through our system to ensure the safety and reliability of our system. If approved, work will begin in 2022, with the majority of the construction planned for 2024. Gas line inspections will take place until 2027.

Our gas lines have an excellent record for both safety and reliability. We will continue to build on our already robust inspection and maintenance activities, to make sure these lines continue to provide safe, reliable service for many decades to come.

Susie Sengupta

project director, major projects, FortisBC

Increasing our natural gas storage

For more than 50 years, liquefied natural gas (LNG) has been at the heart of BC’s energy system and is important to lowering global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. LNG is natural gas that has been cooled to -162°C, becoming a clear, non-toxic and non-flammable liquid that can be stored and accessed for customer use when it’s most needed – like during cold weather.

Our proposed Tilbury LNG Storage Expansion project would enhance the capacity of our Tilbury LNG facility that was built in 1971. The project would strengthen the resiliency of our system with the construction of a new tank that triples Tilbury’s current storage capacity and new equipment to increase our capacity to flow gas from Tilbury back into our gas system.

We are currently preparing an application to our regulator, the BCUC, and there will be opportunities to comment in 2021. If approved, construction could start as early as 2022 and be complete by 2026.

Tilbury is connected to BC’s electrical grid, which is more than 90% powered by renewable hydroelectricity. As a result, Tilbury LNG is about 30% less carbon intensive than the average global LNG.

Ian Finke

director, LNG operations, FortisBC