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Fortis looks to buy Foothills landfill gas

Fraser-Fort George Regional District Chair Art Kaehn.
Regional District of Fraser-Fort George Chair Art Kaehn.

The next time your furnace kicks in, you could be burning fumes from the Foothills landfill.

Today the Regional District of Fraser-Fort George announced approval-in-principle of an agreement where FortisBC will purchase landfill gas from the Foothills Boulevard Regional Landfill to purify and inject the gas into its natural gas distribution system as renewable natural gas.

“The demand for renewable natural gas is significant,” said Douglas Stout, vice-president of external relations and market development, FortisBC. “We welcome the opportunity to bring on new supply as we pursue our target of having 15 per cent of our gas supply be renewable by 2030. If approved, this project will be the first northern renewable natural gas project for FortisBC and will support the development of a locally produced, carbon neutral energy source in B.C.”

When bacteria breaks down organic waste from sources such as landfill sites, agricultural waste and wastewater treatment facilities, bio-gas (mostly made of methane) is produced. FortisBC works with local farmers and municipalities to capture and purify this bio-gas, which would otherwise escape into the atmosphere, to create renewable natural gas. This sustainable energy source blends seamlessly with conventional natural gas in FortisBC’s distribution system, said Stout, lowering the overall carbon intensity of the natural gas being delivered. FortisBC currently works with five renewable natural gas suppliers and owns and operates two renewable natural gas purification facilities on existing landfills.

“Since 2002, the regional district has been capturing landfill gas and flaring it to convert the methane to carbon dioxide and water,” said Art Kaehn, regional district chair. “The proposed agreement with FortisBC helps us achieve our goal of finding a beneficial use for landfill gas while further reducing the environmental impact of our solid waste facilities.”

The regional district would receive between $75,000-$145,000 annually from FortisBC for the supply of landfill gas.

The Foothills Boulevard Regional Landfill currently generates enough landfill gas to produce approximately 70,000-100,000 gigajoules (GJs) of renewable natural gas annually, enough to heat up to 1,100 homes on 100 per cent renewable natural gas. The estimated annual greenhouse gas emissions savings would be approximately 3,500 – 5,700 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e), or the equivalent of taking up to 1,200 cars off the road.

The regional district will seek approval from electors as the agreement spans a 20-year term. Should the project receive elector approval, the regional district and FortisBC will seek to finalize an agreement subject to approval by the British Columbia Utilities Commission (BCUC).

If approved by the electors and the BCUC, regional district will continue to be responsible for the ownership and operation of the landfill and landfill gas collection system. FortisBC will pay the district a fixed price per GJ for raw landfill gas and will be responsible for the costs associated with purifying and injecting the renewal natural gas in to the natural gas distribution system.