B.C. greenhouses face steep heating bills after pipeline explosion

Costs skyrocketed after the blast choked off natural gas supplies.

Some Langley greenhouse owners are getting hammered by sharp increases in natural gas prices caused by the pipeline explosion near Prince George.

“It’s brutal,” said Lawrence Jansen, CEO of Darvonda Nurseries.

In early October, Darvonda was paying about $3.50 per gigajoule of natural gas.

But after the Oct. 9 pipeline blast, the supply to the Lower Mainland was reduced. While Fortis encouraged homeowners to take shorter showers and to turn down their thermostats, some greenhouses saw energy prices skyrocket.

Within a day, the price at the Northwest Sumas gas hub had shot up to more than $10 per gigajoule. In late November, it was above $25 on several days, and on Nov. 16 it was $86.70.

Darvonda bought gas at lower, “interruptible” rates, which means they were vulnerable to sudden shifts in price.

That has meant some major changes for Darvonda and some other local nurseries.

READ MORE: B.C.’s natural gas supply could see 50% dip through winter due to pipeline blast

At Darvonda, a four-acre greenhouse full of cucumber plants should have been harvested for a week and a half more. But the gas price made it too unprofitable, and Jansen said they shut it down, losing about 50,000 cucumbers.

“We had to move a lot of our plants to a different facility, that has fixed [natural gas] rates,” Jansen said.

Local natural gas, “downstream” of the pipeline rupture, has had to come through a 30 inch, older pipeline instead of a 36 inch pipeline, said David Grewal of Absolute Energy.

“That has constrained supply significantly,” he said.

The huge price spike on Nov. 16 was caused by maintenance on the pipeline.

It’s simply a bottleneck in supply, said Grewal.

Darvonda has also reduced heat in the greenhouse where its poinsettia plants are waiting to be shipped out to stores, and at its annual GLOW seasonal light show.

“We’re amazed at how fragile the whole system is,” said Jansen.

Even greenhouses that don’t rely on natural gas for heating are feeling the impacts second-hand.

“The month of November has been mild enough that our biomass boilers have been enough,” said Leo Benne of Bevo Farms.

Bevo supplies new seedling plants for many other greenhouses, and Benne said their clients are seeing shortened growing periods, or considering starting crops later.

That could affect Bevo – some clients are looking into when they’ll order their plants in the new year.

“So far, we’re making it work,” said Benne.

Meanwhile, Darvonda is still growing tomatoes and planning for next year. It’s tempting to switch to buying gas at locked-in prices, but buyers can’t switch immediately, Jansen said.

For now, they’re using as little natural gas as possible.

“We’re probably using less than half what we would normally use,” he said.

_________________________________

Is there more to this story?

mclaxton@langleyadvance.com

Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter

_________________________________

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Just Posted

Flags lowered in honour of the late Bill McRae

Community leader, businessman passed away July 9

LETTER: Terrace mayor cites Bill McRae’s accomplishments

“Hard work and incredible character became a gift to the City of Terrace.”

Royal LePage Aspire Realty buys office in Terrace

Owner Rod Mcleod said the move will increase connectivity in northern B.C.

Ferry Island Campground in Terrace now open to out of province visitors

Decision based on recommendations from the provincial government

Infinite Ice’s holistic hockey program returning to Terrace in August

COVID-19 precautions in place for on-ice training, meditation, yoga and nutrition classes

Recent surge in COVID-19 cases not unexpected amid Phase Three of reopening: B.C.’s top doc

Keep circles small, wear masks and be aware of symptoms, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

B.C. NDP changing WorkSafeBC regulations to respond to COVID-19

Employers say reclassifying coronavirus could be ‘ruinous’

Baby raccoon rescued from 10-foot deep drainage pipe on Vancouver Island

‘Its cries were loud, pitiful and heartbreaking,’ Saanich animal control officer says

Statistical flaws led to B.C. wolf cull which didn’t save endangered caribou as estimated

Study finds statistical flaws in an influential 2019 report supporting a wolf cull

Windows broken, racist graffiti left on Okanagan home

Family says nothing like this has happened since they moved to Summerland in 1980s

B.C. man who went by ‘Doctor Ray Gaglardi’ charged with sex assault of teenage boys

The man, 75, is accused of assaulting teenage boys he met through Coquitlam-area churches

B.C.’s potential deficit $12.5 billion as spending spikes, taxes drop

Finance Minister Carole James gives COVID-19 outlook

Canadians torn on scaling back COVID-19 benefits to save money: poll

Of those surveyed, 78 per cent said they were worried about the size of the deficit

‘Trauma equals addiction’: Why some seek solace in illicit drugs

Part 2: Many pushed into addiction by ‘toxic stress,’ says White Rock psychologist

Most Read