Canadian Regulators Reject FortisBC's Okanagan Gas Pipeline Expansion Plan

(P&GJ) — The British Columbia Utilities Commission (BCUC) has denied FortisBC Energy Inc.’s (FortisBC) application for its Okanagan Capacity Upgrade project, which includes the construction, installation, and operation of approximately 30 km (19 miles) of new natural gas pipeline.

In its application, FortisBC stated that the pipeline expansion project is needed to meet its forecast increase in demand for natural gas in the Okanagan region due to population growth. FortisBC indicated that it expects to be unable to meet the growing demand with its existing pipeline infrastructure, as early as the winter of 2026/2027.

Following an open and transparent public review process, the BCUC denied a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) for the Okanagan Capacity Upgrade project because it determined that the project was not necessary for public convenience or in the public interest.

The BCUC found that FortisBC’s application did not consider the possibility that demand for natural gas in the Okanagan region could flatten or decrease over the next 20 years, due, in part, to BC’s CleanBC Roadmap commitments, BC Building and BC Energy Step Codes impacts, and other planning guidelines or zoning bylaws.

In addition, the BCUC is currently reviewing FortisBC’s Revised Renewable Gas Comprehensive Review application that seeks approval to provide renewable gas service to its new customers. The outcome of this proceeding could also impact FortisBC’s expected demand growth.

Given the estimated project cost of $327 million, the BCUC determined that it would not be prudent to approve the Okanagan Capacity Upgrade project at this time. FortisBC has been directed to examine other short-term solutions and file a mitigation plan with the BCUC by the end of July 2024.

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