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Programme would make RNG, hydrogen, syngas and other future fuels available.

By Maureen McCall

Canadian electricity and natural gas distribution utility FortisBC said January 20 it had applied to the British Columbia Utilities Commission (BCUC) to implement a plan that would supply 100% renewable gas to new homes.

The proposal is part of the utility’s renewable energy programme and would ensure 100% renewable gas for the lifespan of new buildings. The company intends to include renewable natural gas (RNG), hydrogen, syngas and lignin as fuels that could be delivered by its distribution system to homes and businesses without changing out heating equipment. The initiative would provide home builders, real estate developers and new homeowners with a means to meet BC's greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction targets.

"If approved by the BCUC, this would give every British Columbian a choice on how best to reduce GHG emissions from their new home," said Joe Mazza, FortisBC's vice-president of energy supply and resource development. "We realize there's much to consider in the proposal we've put forward but we're excited about the prospect of a new generation of FortisBC customers knowing us as a renewable energy provider."

The proposal is part of the second phase of an ongoing regulatory proceeding regarding RNG customer rates and a comprehensive review of FortisBC's RNG program.

The utility proposes using RNG that is third-party certified as carbon-neutral and releases no new GHG emissions when burned to displace conventional natural gas and reduce GHG emissions associated with its gas system. It is expected to eliminate the need for expensive retrofits required for fuel switches and provide lower month-to-month energy costs compared to other carbon-neutral options.

"Our review of our RNG program really dove into the outlook of renewable gas to serve British Columbians, including supply and demand for renewable gas, customer programs, supply cost and recovery mechanisms as well as current government energy policies and objectives," Mazza said.

FortisBC has made significant progress in increasing RNG supply in its gas system, tripling its supply throughout 2021 and expecting a similar increase in 2022.