Fortis Okanagan Capacity Upgrade Project is in the works for the Naramata Bench.
"FortisBC is seeking BCUC approval to construct and operate a new gas line extension and associated facilities to increase its Interior Transmission System capacity for expected load growth."
Okanagan Capacity Upgrade Project
FortisBC is planning to increase capacity in the Okanagan by adding approximately 30 kilometers of new gas line. This is an extension of an existing gas system along Penticton’s eastern border, to extend from Ellis Creek north beyond Chute Lake. The project was submitted to the British Columbia Utilities Commission (BCUC) in 2020 and a decision is anticipated in 2022.
Communities in the Okanagan are expected to grow 40 % in the next two decades. The Okanagan Capacity Upgrade Project will allow Fortis to expand natural gas service to additional new subdivisions and residential areas in the future.
First Things First Okanagan is an intervener to challenge the project. We feel that expanding the capacity of gas in the Okanagan runs counter to the explicit goals of the City of Penticton, City of Kelowna, City of Vernon, and local Regional Districts' Community Climate Action Plans.
Here's why we are opposed to the project:
Building new natural gas infrastructure runs counter to climate targets.
The City of Penticton’s climate goal is to reduce emissions below 2007 levels by at least 40% by 2030, 65% by 2040, and 100% by 2050, creating energy efficient buildings powered, heated and cooled with 100% renewable energy.
Since natural gas is the source of approximately 92% of building emissions (City of Penticton Climate Action Plan. p. 21), restricting its use in new buildings is an important strategy to lower community emissions.
Our provincial CleanBC plan advocates a Net Zero energy future with little or no dependence on fossil fuels for home energy use.
Space and water heating represent about 85 per cent of residential greenhouse gas emissions and 68 per cent of commercial emissions. 1. Many jurisdictions in North America and Europe are restricting or banning fossil fuel-based heating in new home construction and replacing fossil fuels with electric heating to meet these targets.
Electrification of heating is considered a necessary part of the transition to net zero in Canada's building sector. Allowing increased fossil fuel infrastructure will make it more difficult to reduce the region’s reliance on fossil fuel energy.
"Natural" gas is methane more than 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide in terms of warming the climate system. 2
Most gas in Fortis's system is fracked gas from BC's northeast. Fracking negatively affects the health of people and species, and the process permanently contaminates large amounts of water.
Fugitive emissions from the natural gas industry’s production, distribution, storage as well as leaks and incomplete combustion in stoves and furnaces, are a significant source of methane emissions.
In 2021, Canada and 80 other countries signed a Global Methane Pledge to cut emissions of methane by at least 30 per cent below 2020 levels by 2030.
Fossil gas appliances have been implicated in exposing people to respiratory disease-triggering pollutants that lower indoor air quality.
Since furnaces and gas appliances are built to last twenty years or more, the FortisBC Okanagan Capacity Upgrade Project will deter homeowners from switching to emissions-free options.
The Fortis Okanagan Capacity Upgrade Project project is not needed, cannot ensure that GHG emissions will be reduced, and would unnecessarily expose a 30 km environmentally sensitive corridor to potential habitat degradation.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states, "Climate change is a threat to human well-being and planetary health...Any further delay...will miss a brief and rapidly closing window of opportunity to secure a livable and sustainable future for all." and the UN Security General says, “Investing in new fossil fuel infrastructure is moral and economic madness.”
Your voice matters
READY TO SHARE YOUR CONCERN?
Tell BCUC NOW
On the Proceeding Name* on the BCUC webpage pull-down menu choose:
FEI CPCN for the Okanagan Capacity Upgrade Project
Points to consider: This pipeline would
Reduce regional ability to meet GHG targets
Disincentivize homeowners from switching to electric appliances
Encourage MORE fossil fuel use
Harm indoor air quality from cooking with gas
Threaten sensitive environmental areas/stream crossings