Cariboo Regional District board received information about Renewable Natural Gas (RNG) from Fortis BC during a regular meeting Friday, March 1.
Siraz Dalmir, municipalities key account manager with Fortis BC, described the process noting when organic waste decomposes it creates bio-gas, which can be captured and upgraded to produce bio-methane, also known as RNG.
“Another way of describing it is a circular economy approach where instead of waste leaving the waste streams and essentially being dumped out as compost you can extract some of the energy and produce energy,” Dalmir said.
In its CleanBC plan released in January of this year, the provincial government announced it will make B.C.’s Building Code more efficient by requiring buildings to get 15 per cent of their energy from renewable natural gas.
“It’s a very ambitious target,” Dalmir said, but added in 2017 the province gave Fortis an allowance of up to five per cent of the system could be RNG.
A landfill gas stream project in Salmon Arm, puts out 15,000 gigajoules a year of RNG, which Dalmir said is about the amount of natural gas a recreation centre with a pool might use in a year.
Barb Bachmeier, Area B director for Quesnel West, Bouchie Lake, asked if the process involves putting pipes into a landfill.
“How difficult is this to do? What is the expectation for how much gas you can get from it?” she queried. “Is it buried? I’ve heard it would cost tons of money to set up?”
Dalmir responded that costs can vary depending on what already exists in a community and for smaller communities it is important to take a regional approach that could take in multiple sources.
“The simpler processes cost less,” he said.
Quesnel Mayor and board member Bob Simpson said there needs to be a program through the Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM) for communities to access funding for doing a business case analysis to pursue RNG projects.
“We also do our waste water treatment with Cariboo Pulp and Paper, which is right below our landfill, we have wood waste issues so I think in terms of a takeaway from this is to start working with the provincial government and UBCM to get that foundation piece so we have some opportunities to take advantage of this,” Simpson said.
Fortis applies to BC Utilities Commission for approval to inspect lines
Matt Mason, Community and Indigenous Relations Manager with Fortis, told the board FortisBC’s Inland Gas Project is in front of the BC Utilities Commission for approval.
“The project is basically inspection of our pipelines,” Mason explained. “We want to make sure we can inspect our lines a lot better and that we don’t have any big challenges going forward.”
There are projects slated for Williams Lake and for Quesnel that won’t be invasive, he added, noting some lines have been identified for inspection in several communities.
“It will involve taking an existing line and making it bend better so that an inspection tool can actually travel through the line itself because right now there is a lot of line that are really old and actually come to 90 degrees,” Mason said. “I think we are pretty confident we don’t have any challenges, but we don’t know until we know.”