UPDATE: Kamloops City Council voted to approve Fortis’ request despite having received approximately 100 letters urging them to say no, and before giving the many members of the public who made time to attend the Council meeting a chance to speak. (The only dissenters were Councillors Bass, Bepple and Neustaeter).
Our next step is to encourage folks to send letters directly to the BC Utilities Commission. Send your letters to the BC Utilities Commission before the October 12 deadline. The name of the proceeding is FEI BERC Rate Methodology and Review of Revised RNG Program. You can check out what has already been submitted here.
FortisBC is trying to pull a fast one. We get it—getting new homes hooked on gas is a big deal for the company. But we all know we can’t keep burning gas when there are better alternatives available.
Natural gas is a fossil fuel, mostly extracted by fracking. FortisBC is a fossil fuel company that is trying to grow its business as much as possible before local and provincial clean energy regulations come into effect (e.g. CleanBC’s 40% GHG emission reductions by 2030, net zero by 2050).
As municipalities across BC are beginning to ban new gas connections in order to meet these targets, Fortis has begun a lobbying campaign to convince municipalities to drop these bans and related parts of codes and bylaws that they consider to be anti-gas.
Under the guise of a low carbon resiliency plan centred on “renewable natural gas” (RNG, more below), Fortis is trying to greenwash what will be a net increase in conventional fossil gas use and overall GHG emissions that will delay the inevitable and essential transition away from fossil fuels.
Fortis has applied to the BC Utilities Commission (BCUC) to supply 100% RNG to all new residential gas customers, for the life of the building, with the extra cost of RNG (compared to fossil natural gas) being covered by all Fortis customers. So new residential customers would get a great deal: they’d pay only the price of fossil gas. Meanwhile, pre-existing customers would have to subsidize the new ones—forever. If existing customers wanted to burn RNG too, they’d have to pay the actual, much higher cost of it.
RNG comes from sources like landfills and livestock operations. It’s more expensive than fracked gas because there’s hardly any of it around: Fortis plans to buy it from as far away as Pennsylvania! The problem is that, chemically, biomethane is basically identical to fossil gas—the atmosphere can’t tell the difference. Regardless of source, methane acts like a blanket around the earth—and it has over 80 times the warming power of carbon dioxide in the first 20 years after it hits the atmosphere.
Fortis’ proposal will increase the overall number of homes using gas rather than encouraging the use of electricity. It will divert customers away from using clean, efficient heat pumps.
This Tuesday, September 26, Fortis is asking Kamloops City Council for a letter of support for the application to the BC Utilities Commission.
For the past year, Fortis has been lobbying municipal governments, asking for their support. Several other municipalities are opposing Fortis’ request, and we hope Kamloops will do the same.
Will you send a letter to our Council members, asking them to turn down Fortis’ request? It’s urgent: the meeting is Tuesday (tomorrow!) at 1:30 pm in Council Chambers at City Hall.
We’re trying out this new tool to make it easy for folks to send letters to all the Councillors. Please take the time to personalize your letter as much as you can.
The platform is set up to ask for a donation at the end—please feel free to skip that step.
Thanks for your support for climate action!
NOTE: The tool is still being tested, so if the link isn’t working, please just send an email the normal way from your own email program.