Photo submitted

Natural gas pipeline repairs could cost consumers

Last fall’s heavy rains exposed sections of Pacific Northern Gas pipeline

Northwestern natural gas consumers could very well see an increase in their bills based on repairs and rerouting of the Pacific Northern Gas (PNG) pipeline along a section of the Copper River east of Terrace.

Last October heavy rains and subsequent flooding and washouts along the Copper River Forest Resource Road, which runs adjacent to the river, exposed a large section of the pipeline that is otherwise buried.

The pipeline is PNG’s main one running west of Prince George servicing communities and businesses along Hwy16 to the coast. A smaller line branches off of the main one to service the Kitimat area.

Since October PNG has made temporary repairs and will undertake more work as it develops the design of a more extensive project to reroute and rebury the exposed section, says Joe Mazza, the utility’s vice president of operations and engineering.

“PNG has advanced the detailed design work at or near the site of the washout, but we have not made a final determination on the routing for the permanent repair,” he said.

Once that is determined, the utility will be filing its plan with the B.C. Utilities Commission (BCUC), the provincial body that regulates PNG’s expenditures and the rates it charges to industrial, commercial and residential consumers.

“Potential rate impacts are unknown at this time,” said Mazza adding that the goal of the utility is to limit any anticipated rate hikes.

As it is, PNG has already submitted a wide-ranging revenue application for both 2018 and 2019 outlining its anticipated costs and need for more money.

It’s been granted temporary new rates as of Jan. 1 pending a final determination by the utilities commission.

While PNG’s costs to deliver natural gas have increased, the cost of the gas itself has dropped with the result being lower overall rates as of Jan. 1 compared to the end of 2017.

As a regulated utility, PNG passes along the cost of natural gas to its customers and is not allowed to mark up the commodity. Natural gas costs are adjusted every three months.

Still, PNG customers in the northwest pay the highest overall rates for natural gas in the province since the utility began losing high volume industrial users more than a decade ago.

With fewer large customers, the cost of maintaining PNG’s pipeline has fallen mainly to small commercial and residential customers, resulting in delivery rates close to three times what they are in the lower mainland.

As of Jan. 1, northwestern residential users are paying a delivery charge of $13.157 per gigajoule of natural gas compared to a lower mainland customers who are paying $5.113 per gigajoule.

Just Posted

Michelle Mungall’s baby first in B.C. legislature chamber

B.C. energy minister praises support of staff, fellow MLAs

‘Police are ready’ for legal pot, say Canadian chiefs

But Canadians won’t see major policing changes as pot becomes legal

Illegal dumping pushes BC Conservation to the tipping point

Terrace office may bring violators to court to seek higher penalties

Natural gas pipeline cost soars

Coastal GasLink to carry gas from northeastern B.C. to LNG Canada plant at Kitimat

Video: An up-close look at beluga whales in Hudson Bay

An up-close look as some belugas greet whale watchers off the coast of Churchill, Manitoba

Michelle Mungall’s baby first in B.C. legislature chamber

B.C. energy minister praises support of staff, fellow MLAs

Canucks: Pettersson in concussion protocol, Beagle out with broken forearm

Head coach Travis Green called the hit ‘a dirty play’

5 tips for talking to your kids about cannabis

Health officials recommend sharing a harm reduction-related message.

NHL players say Canada’s legalization of marijuana won’t impact them

NHL players say the legalization of marijuana in Canada won’t change how they go about their business.

Automated cars could kill wide range of jobs, federal documents say

Internal government documents show that more than one million jobs could be lost to automated vehicles, with ripple effects far beyond the likeliest professions.

Private marijuana stores should shut down, Mike Farnworth says

B.C. has approved 62 licences, but they still need local approval

HPV vaccine does not lead to riskier sex among teen girls: UBC

Girls are less likely to have sex now than they were a decade ago

Koreas agree to break ground on inter-Korean railroad

The rival Koreas are holding high-level talks Monday to discuss further engagement amid a global diplomatic push to resolve the nuclear standoff with North Korea.

Most Read