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Comment: Excluding natural gas system will set back climate goals and increase costs

Eliminating access to natural gas will reduce choice, raise prices and cut off homes and businesses from low-carbon energy options, says the manager, community and Indigenous relations at FortisBC.
A gas-lit flame burns on a natural gas stove. AP, Thomas Kienzle

A commentary by the manager, community and Indigenous relations at FortisBC.

Nanaimo city council is considering eliminating access to natural gas in new buildings as part of its climate strategy.

Such a move would do little to further climate goals, but it will reduce choice, raise prices and cut off homes and businesses from access to a system that delivers low-carbon energy options today and in the future.

FortisBC provides a resilient, reliable gas system that is complementary to the electricity system.

By using our gas infrastructure to carry renewable and low-carbon gas, we are reducing emissions while meeting Nanaimo’s energy needs, even during peak periods like winter, something the province’s increasingly stretched electricity system cannot easily do.

To support this and to meet anticipated demand, FortisBC is increasing our supply of renewable natural gas and investing to introduce other renewable and low-carbon gases, such as hydrogen.

Today’s natural gas system is tomorrow’s renewable and low carbon system. The infrastructure and energy are available today — it is simply a question of how we can best use it to serve British Columbians.

However, we cannot provide these low-carbon energy solutions if access is eliminated.

Both the provincial and federal governments recognize the importance of the gas system in meeting climate goals, and we hope municipalities like Nanaimo do too.

FortisBC is proposing that every newly built home in B.C. that is connected to our gas system will be supplied with 100 per cent renewable natural gas for the entire lifespan of the structure.

If approved, this would give every British Columbian a choice on how best to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from their new home, but not if we eliminate these options.

Combating climate change means working together and keeping every option on the table.

We will continue to develop our renewable and low-carbon gas options so that we can contribute towards meeting B.C.’s climate goals, maintain affordability and provide choice for families and businesses.