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Harsh winter may trigger BC-wide natural gas shortage following pipeline explosion

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Conservation efforts might not be enough to get natural gas users comfortably through a harsh BC winter.

More than a month after a pipeline owned by Enbridge ruptured near Prince George, FortisBC says capacity levels are only expected to reach 80 per cent.

“While we can do what we can to improve the supply situation, we also need to bring down that demand side because this is a situation that we’ll certainly be dealing with for at least a couple months,” said Sean Beardow with the utility company.

RELATED: Enbridge turning on repaired pipeline

Even when supply levels hit 80 per cent, FortisBC will they need to keep buying gas from other sources for up to two months. In the meantime, Beardow urges more than a million customers –both residential and industrial– need to keep conserving energy.

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“That first step is to look at who the big consumers of gas are and look to them, first of all, if they can fuel switch and if not, we start working our way through a bit of a priority list on temporary curtailment of service,” added Beardow.

Shortage hitting vegetable farmers

Linda Delli Santi with BC’s Greenhouse Growers Association says since the October 9th explosion, her members have been paying private brokers a lot more for gas.

“On the 13th, when we started using it again, the price of natural gas went up ten fold –immediately,” she told NEWS 1130.

“They’re paying up to ten times more than they normally pay. You know, when you want to talk about recovering the costs, they have to try to recover the costs in the marketplace.”

RELATED: Fortis asks customers to continue conserving, despite Enbridge repairs to gas line

Santi adds, it could create a shorter growing season.

“If we don’t have enough product, then you’ll see less of it and of course, my members will try to recover their input costs in the marketplace,” she said.

At this point, it’s not clear how much FortisBC customers can expect rates to go up, but the provincial government is monitoring the situation.

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