FortisBC

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FortisBC
Subsidiary
Industry Electricity, Natural Gas
Headquarters Kelowna and Surrey, British Columbia, Canada
Key people
Michael Mulcahy, President and Chief Executive Officer
Parent Fortis Inc.
Website www.fortisbc.com

FortisBC Inc is an electric power and gas distribution/retail company in the Canadian province of British Columbia, a subsidiary of Newfoundland-based Fortis Inc., Canada’s largest private utility company. In March 2011 Terasen Gas, British Columbia's largest natural gas distributor, was renamed FortisBC Energy Inc., as both companies are owned by Fortis Inc.[1]

FortisBC (electricity) serves approximately 111,500 customers directly in communities throughout south central British Columbia, including Kelowna, Osoyoos, Trail, Castlegar, Princeton and Rossland and approximately 48,500 customers through the wholesale supply of power to municipal distributors in the communities of Summerland, Penticton, Grand Forks, and Nelson.

FortisBC (natural gas) serves approximately 920,000 customers in over 125 communities. Rates in different areas vary by over 60%. The company owns and operates 44,100 kilometres of gas distribution pipelines and 4,300 kilometres of gas transmission pipelines. Its service territory includes Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island, and the southern interior of the province. FortisBC (natural gas) also develops systems such as geoexchange and district energy systems for communities and municipalities. The company also produces gas from landfill and agricultural waste.[2]

Together, FortisBC (electricity) and FortisBC (natural gas) deliver over 20% of total energy consumed in B.C. and serve more than 1.1 million customers in more than 135 communities.[3]

The British Columbia Utilities Commission (BCUC) regulates both FortisBC Inc. and FortisBC Energy Inc.; rates are set within a framework combining cost of service and performance-based regulation. This framework is intended to encourage FortisBC to operate efficiently by permitting its shareholders and customers to share in cost savings if specified targets are met.

Personnel[edit]

As of 2015 Michael Mulcahy was President & CEO. Vice-presidents included Roger Dall’Antonia, for Customer Service and Regulatory Affairs, Cynthia Des Brisay, for Energy Supply and Resource Development, Jody Drope, for Human Resources and Environment, Health and Safety, Michele Leeners, for Finance & CFO, Doyle Sam, for Operations and Engineering, Doug Stout, for Market Development & External Relations, and Dennis Swanson, for Corporate Services.

History[edit]

FortisBC (electricity)[edit]

West Kootenay Power (WKP) was founded in 1897 and owned by Teck Resources Ltd. (formerly Cominco) from 1916 until 1987, when it was acquired by Missouri-based UtiliCorp United (later renamed Aquila Networks). WKP was renamed UtiliCorp Networks in 2001, and Aquila Networks Canada in 2002.

In September 2003, Fortis acquired Aquila’s Alberta and BC distribution and retail assets for $1.4bn, including a large section of the Alberta transmission grid that Aquila had purchased from TransAlta for $600m in 2000.

FortisBC Energy Inc. (natural gas)[edit]

FortisBC Energy Inc. (named Terasen Gas until March 2011) is a subsidiary of Fortis Inc., a Canadian, investor-owned corporation.

  • 1952: Inland Natural Gas was incorporated to distribute natural gas throughout the interior of British Columbia. The company purchased St. John Oil and Gas, Peace River Transmission, Canadian Northern Oil and Gas, and Grand Prairie Transmission.
  • 1980s: Inland Natural Gas purchased the Lower Mainland gas division from BC Hydro and changed its name to BC Gas, serving 546,000 customers in 70 communities across BC.
  • 2002: BC Gas became the dominant distributor of natural gas in British Columbia by purchasing Centra Gas BC Inc. and Centra Gas Whistler Inc. adding 75,000 natural gas customers on the Sunshine Coast and Vancouver Island, and 2,000 piped propane customers in Whistler.
  • 2003: BC Gas Inc. became Terasen Inc.
  • May 17, 2007, Fortis Inc. acquired Terasen Inc. from Kinder Morgan, which owned the corporation since 2005.
  • 2011: the Terasen group of companies – Terasen Gas Inc., Terasen Gas (Vancouver Island) Inc., Terasen Gas (Whistler) Inc. ¬– become FortisBC Energy Inc.

FortisBC Inc. facilities and generation[edit]

FortisBC has operated and maintained hydroelectric power facilities in British Columbia since the early twentieth century. Some facilities are owned and others operated and maintained by FortisBC.

FortisBC owns four regulated hydro-electric generating plants on the Kootenay River with an aggregate capacity of 223 MW: the Corra Linn, Upper Bonnington, Lower Bonnington, and South Slocan Plants. All of these plants have water diverted by BC Hydro's Kootenay Canal.

FortisBC also owns Walden North, a non-regulated 16 megawatt run-of-river hydroelectric generating plant near Lillooet, British Columbia. FortisBC operates and maintains two generating plants with a total generating capacity of 599 MW. They are the Waneta Dam,[4] which is owned by Teck Resources Ltd and Brilliant Dam which is owned by Columbia Power Corporation.

Corra Linn[edit]

Main article: Corra Linn Dam

The Corra Linn Dam was initially built in 1932 to control upstream storage by raising Kootenay Lake and generate power through three 19,000 horsepower units operating under the depth of water behind the dam of approximately 16 metres. With the raising of the water levels, the Taghum bridge upstream from the new dam needed to be raised 2 metres.[5] The aggregate generating capacity is 49 MW. The Corra Linn Dam is located on the Kootenay River, approximately 15 km (9.3 mi) downstream of Nelson on British Columbia Highway 3A.

Upper Bonnington[edit]

The Upper Bonnington Generating Station consists of six hydroelectric units in two adjacent powerhouses, a 15 metre high concrete gravity dam, a powerhouse with two sections, a gated spillway and an overflow spillway. The original powerhouse was built in 1907, upgraded in 1916 and extended again in 1940 for a total rated capacity of 66 MW. The Upper Bonnington Dam is located on the Kootenay River, approximately 17 km (11 mi) downstream of Nelson. Also at the same Bonnington Falls location, but on the other side of the river is the City of Nelson Powerhouse in operation since 1907.[6]

Lower Bonnington[edit]

Lower Bonnington power plant in 1925

The Lower Bonnington Dam is composed of a powerhouse behind an intake dam on the right bank of the Kootenay River and a concrete gravity structure approximately 18 meters high. The original dam built in 1897, was a rock-filled timber crib dam, which straddled the right side of the river upstream of the lower Bonnington Falls at this site.[7] The dam was demolished and replaced with a larger structure in 1924 with a new plant including three units increasing aggregate generating capacity to 54 MW, it was reconstructed in 1964.[8] The Lower Bonnington Dam is located on the Kootenay River approximately 18 km southwest of Nelson.

South Slocan[edit]

The South Slocan Dam was commissioned in 1928 and has an aggregate generating capacity of 54 MW. The South Slocan Dam is located on the Kootenay River, near South Slocan, 20 km south west of Nelson on British Columbia Highway 3A.

FortisBC Energy Inc. offerings[edit]

FortisBC (natural gas) is the largest distributor of natural gas in British Columbia, serving over 940,000 customers in the Lower Mainland (Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley), Vancouver Island, the Sunshine Coast, Whistler, and the Interior of the province from the U.S. border to Chetwynd, B.C. The company also serves the northern community of Fort Nelson, B.C.

It operates approximately 48,000 km of pipelines, 11 compressor stations, and a liquified natural gas (LNG) terminal in Delta, B.C. The distribution network also includes several underwater pipeline crossings, including under the Columbia and Fraser rivers and the Strait of Georgia.

The company’s newest natural gas pipeline, the Whistler Pipeline, was built in conjunction with the Sea to Sky Highway Improvement Project, which was completed for the Vancouver-Whistler 2010 Winter Olympic Games. The pipeline falls mainly within the highway right of way and brings natural gas to the Resort Municipality of Whistler, which was formerly served by propane.

Mt. Hayes storage facility[edit]

FortisBC completed construction on its new liquefied natural gas (LNG) storage facility in June 2011. The facility is located west of Mt. Hayes on Vancouver Island, approximately 6 km northwest of Ladysmith.

The site, which consists of approximately 42.7 hectares, was favoured by the community and public opinions gathered at open house sessions. The pipeline to the FortisBC mainline will not significantly affect local property or cross any streams or rivers.

The Mt. Hayes storage facility has capacity to store 1.5 billion cubic feet of liquefied natural gas.

Alternative energy services[edit]

FortisBC (natural gas) develops and operates geoexchange and district energy systems. Projects include Dockside Green, Victoria, and Athlete's Village, Whistler. Dockside Green is set to be North America’s first greenhouse gas neutral community.[9]

District energy systems[edit]

District energy systems produce steam, hot water, or chilled water at a central plant, and then pipe that energy into buildings in the district for space heating, domestic hot water heating and air conditioning. There are various potential energy sources: geoexchange, biomass, sewer, and landfill gas.

Geoexchange[edit]

The earth absorbs and stores heat from the sun. This stored energy can then be used in geoexchange heating and cooling systems. Fluid is circulated to absorb heat from the surrounding soil or ground water, which is then concentrated and transferred to the building to provide space and hot water heating.

In hot weather the process is reversed with the loop carrying heat away from the building and into the ground where it is stored in the earth. FortisBC (natural gas) builds, owns and operates geoexchange systems for multi-residential, commercial, and industrial developments. Projects include: Flatiron, Vancouver, Waterstone Pier, Richmond, and Wakefield Beach, Sechelt.[10]

Biomass[edit]

Biomass power plants use wood and wood by-products from forestry and sawmills, methane from landfills, and animal manure from farms, to generate heat and power. In the simplest method of converting biomass into energy, organic matter is burned in a boiler to make steam, which then turns a turbine generator. Heat can be distributed directly to nearby buildings. The carbon dioxide emitted would have been released by the natural decomposition of the biomass, so the plant does not contribute additional CO2 emissions.

Renewable natural gas (biogas)[edit]

Renewable natural gas is produced when organic material from sources such as landfills, wastewater treatment facilities, agriculture and industry decomposes. When it is cleaned and upgraded, it is called biomethane.

In June 2011, FortisBC (natural gas) launched started supplying renewable gas to residential customers in the Lower Mainland, Fraser Valley, Interior and the Kootenays. Customers can designate 10 per cent of their household’s natural gas usage as renewable natural gas; FortisBC will then inject an equivalent amount of renewable natural gas into its distribution system from local renewable natural gas projects.

Conservation programs[edit]

Energy efficiency and conservation (natural gas)[edit]

In April 2009 FortisBC (natural gas) started the implementation of a $41.5 million energy-efficiency and conservation program after receiving approval from the BCUC to use those funds from 2009 to 2010.[11] In November 2009 the BCUC approved an extension of the program until the end of 2011, and increased allowed expenditures by approximately $38.5 million.

Residential appliances such as furnaces, water heaters, and fireplaces can be upgraded. Existing commecial boilers can be replaced by more efficient models.

PowerSense (electricity)[edit]

FortisBC PowerSense provides financial incentives and advice on energy-efficient technologies and practices, to its own customers and those of municipal utilities a Grand Forks, Kelowna, Penticton, Summerland and Nelson Hydro.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]