Pacific Northern Gas will draw RNG from Alberta to supply customers in northern BC.

By Dale Lunan

The British Columbia Utilities Commission (BCUC) said November 25 it had approved an application from Pacific Northern Gas (PNG), a distributor serving the northern part of the province, to establish a low carbon energy programme.

The intent of the programme, the BCUC said, is to help PNG and its customers reduce their collective greenhouse gas emissions, and a key part of the programme will be the ability of customers to choose renewable natural gas (RNG) blended into their natural gas supply. They can choose to receive RNG blends ranging from 2% to 100%.

For customers who do opt in, the BCUC set an approved commodity charge of C$27.50/GJ, which reflects PNG’s total estimated costs to provide the RNG, although participating customers will receive a biomethane credit under BC’s Carbon Tax Regulation. PNG’s current rates consist of natural gas commodity charges ranging from about C$6.725/GJ to C$7.40/GJ, depending on the service area.

In testimony before the BCUC, PNG estimated that uptake under the program would likely be relatively modest, with demand estimates ranging from 4,000-11,000 GJ/year, and that monthly residential bills would increase by C$2-C$8 at blend rates ranging between 1% and 5%.

The BCUC also approved provisions for PNG to use some of the RNG for its own uses and to sell surplus RNG volumes to third parties outside its service area, with revenues to be applied against the costs of the low carbon energy programme.

The RNG will be provided to PNG, under displacement accounting, from the ATCO Future Fuel RNG partnership in Alberta and Calgary-based Tidal Energy Marketing, which is owned by Enbridge. In November 2021, ATCO Future Fuel signed a 15-year agreement to supply up to 230,000 GJ/yr to PNG from a biomethane facility it was developing in east central Alberta.