THE MODEST drop, as of July 1, in natural gas rates for northwest residents because of the decline in the cost of gas itself is good news.
But gas bills here remain the highest in the province because of the cost of delivering the product. As of July 1, that cost is $11.478 a gigajoule vs. $4.74 a gigajoule in the Lower Mainland, a not inconsiderable gap.
What is going to help is the construction of the smallest of the planned liquefied natural gas plants in the Kitimat area.
Commonly called BC LNG Export Cooperative, this project involves parking a barge containing LNG facilities offshore to produce one LNG tanker worth of product a month.
The gas for this plant will flow through an existing pipeline belonging to Pacific Northern Gas (PNG).
There’s room in this pipeline because PNG’s traditional industrial base has all but disappeared (the woods industry, the methanol-producing Methanex plant at Kitimat are a few examples).
That’s left the rest of us to shoulder the cost of maintaining PNG’s underutilized pipeline.
But a successful BC LNG Export Cooperative LNG barge project will fill the pipeline once more, providing PNG with the kind of revenues that will lower the delivery costs for its other northwest customers.
Delivery rates may not fall to the lower mainland level but any reduction, under the watchful eye of the BC Utilities Commission, is welcome indeed.