Westward Independent

Natural Gas – Local Councils and Energy Choices

by Adrienne Richards
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Across the island, local councils appear to be adopting a unified stance on the demonization and restriction of natural gas. This trend, observed in policies ranging from tree bylaws to natural gas restrictions, raises questions about whether these policies truly address the unique needs of our communities or serve some broader agenda.
A recent letter sent to all councils by a member of the Climate Caucus NGO advocating for changing the term “Natural Gas” to “Fossil Gas” to eliminate any confusion about its source. However, this proposal lacked substantial justification, as natural gas is not derived from fossils. Additionally, a local NGO, linked to a global counterpart, presented questionable studies suggesting a link between natural gas cooking and childhood asthma, casting doubts on the validity of such claims.



Natural gas has a long history in British Columbia, dating back over a century to its discovery in Haney along the Fraser River. It has since grown to supply about 30% of the province’s energy needs, particularly during the coldest months. FortisBC, while not a producer of natural gas, plays a crucial role in delivering it to homes and businesses, alongside electricity infrastructure in Kelowna. Their recent study revealed that transitioning Kelowna to 100% BC Hydro would be costly (in the billions) and require additional power sources, likely from Alberta.


The B.C. government has entered into 64 natural gas pipeline benefits agreements with 29 eligible First Nations (more than 90%) located along four proposed natural gas pipeline routes. These agreements are helping to establish long-term working relationships that include sharing benefits associated with the natural gas pipelines and providing support for LNG development that is environmentally and socially responsible, and respectful of Aboriginal rights. Would these relationships be threatened if we reduced N.G. Usage?


The question arises: Does North Cowichan and the CVRD possess the grid capacity to rely solely on BC Hydro, and would this result in reduced costs or escalating bills? Many view natural gas as a more cost-effective heating option, with some local electricians we spoke to converting their homes to natural gas to save on monthly expenses. Affordability in energy choices is crucial, especially considering that more global fatalities occur due to cold-related issues than heat-related ones. We heard from a woman who works as an in-home nurse who told us stories of going into seniour’s homes in the winter noticing they had many layers of clothing on and the heat off or at a minimum because they couldn’t afford to heat in the winter.


FortisBC sees tremendous potential for biofuels in its natural gas system. By capturing the methane generated by landfills and farming operations, this Renewable Natural Gas (RNG) can heat BC homes and businesses. FortisBC was the first utility in North America to offer this kind of RNG program to its customers, and now more than 9,500 customers have signed up.


FortisBC recognizes the potential of biofuels, particularly Renewable Natural Gas (RNG), in its system. RNG, derived from methane captured at landfills and farms, can effectively heat homes and businesses. Although FortisBC initiated efforts to encourage local municipalities and Regional Districts to tap into curbside waste byproduct methane for RNG production, progress has been slow, with Campbell River being a notable exception. Municipalities should consider these circular economy opportunities as alternatives to grant reliance.
One striking example involves three dairy farmers in the Comox Regional District, aiming to convert cattle manure into RNG and profit from energy supply while reducing odorous emissions. However, their application was denied by the CVRD.


Currently, our power comes from an energy grid that is like a bank. The energy to the grid is supplied from multiple sources, where we import 22%, much of which is supplied by coal plants in the U.S. So the “water powered” labels on your electric car charging stations are not completely accurate. FortisBC has committed to meeting its 2030 goals, primarily by expanding the use of LNG and renewable natural gas, provided local municipalities cooperate.
It’s essential to remember that local councils cannot curtail citizens’ right to choose, as per the Community Charter. In times of financial strain, everyone should have choices that impact their finances.
FortisBC is a valuable resource for clarifying misconceptions about natural gas. Citizens are encouraged to engage with them and express their concerns to local governments, especially in light of the active lobby against natural gas.

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