Fraser Forum

Elimination of natural gas will hit Vancouverites in the wallet

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Hardly a day goes by in Vancouver when you don’t hear residents discussing how unaffordable it is to live there. Unfortunately, the situation will likely get worse for Vancouverites. Why? Vancouver city council recently passed its Renewable City Strategy, which intends to eliminate the use of non-renewable natural gas in the city by 2050.

This move could hit Vancouverites right in their wallets.

Vancouver’s current natural gas use is extensive—not surprising since natural gas is abundant, affordable and the cleanest fossil fuel.

According to figures from the city, in 2014, 56 per cent of energy use by residences came from natural gas. The number for commercial, institutional and industrial users is 37 per cent of energy use. All told, in 2014, Vancouver residents and businesses used about 21 million gigajoules (GJ) of natural gas-derived energy. Vancouver city council wants to drop that number to zero by 2050.

The cost of this transition for Vancouver residences and businesses could be substantial. When the plan was unveiled, the president and CEO of FortisBC (the company that provides natural gas to approximately 108,000 residential and commercial customers in Vancouver) sent a letter to Vancouver’s mayor and city council, expressing his concern about the plan, calling it “impractical” and noting its “potential to increase costs for energy users in the city.” FortisBC also estimated that if a family of four in Vancouver had to use electricity for their space and water heating—instead of natural gas—they would spend an additional $1,500 a year.

In trying to defend the elimination of natural gas from the city, Vancouver’s city manager said the move is merely about transitioning from non-renewable to renewable natural gas. Even if this is the case, the additional costs for consumers will likely still be high.

For example, FortisBC already offers a service where consumers can choose to have all or a percentage of the gas delivered to their homes come from renewable sources. They also provide estimates of what the additional cost will be to consume renewable natural gas.

For an average customer (annual use of 90 GJ) in the Lower Mainland, if 100 per cent of your natural gas came from renewable sources, which it would have to if Vancouver eliminated all non-renewable natural gas use in the city, you would pay an additional $1,060.20 per year.

If you are a small business consuming 300 GJ of natural gas, to have 100 per cent of that gas come from renewable sources would cost an extra $3,534.00 per year. For large businesses (3,000 GJ of consumption), the additional costs would total $35,340.00 per year.

One thing seems clear about Vancouver city council’s goal to eliminate the use of non-renewable natural gas in the city: higher costs are on the way for residences and businesses.


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