Where is Terasens commitment to sustainability?
In the article headlined "Terasen looks to Whistler for pipeline support" from last weeks Pique, Terasen officials expressed that they, like many, including myself, would like a community decision made as to how we should proceed with heating Whistler in the future. Energy and especially heating in Whistler are clearly significant contributors to both local air quality and localized climate issues such as pine beetle and shorter winters.
This decision, however, should not necessarily be forced forward without adequate review, which to date has in my mind been insufficient and lacking local consultation. Keep in mind also that at any time Terasen has the right to forgo new customers in an effort to protect existing customers. Their past decisions to accept new load is clearly in part, leading to current energy peaking issues.
According to a quote, Terasen officials infer that not making a decision may lead to some less sustainable option. When comparing propane to natural gas it is clear that natural gas is a winner as far as sustainability goes; cleaner, slightly safer and little less expensive for the time being. However, why should we be forced to chose between two unsustainable options when there are many other routes as expressed in my Sept 10 th Pique letter to the editor?
Switching to natural gas today, based on a project that amortizes the costs over 50 years, clearly shows that Terasen gas is expecting to provide natural gas to Whistler for 50 years in ever increasing amounts. In fact, as described by comments made in last weeks article they are even willing to bully new users (RMOW and Olympic facilities) to make long-term guarantees through holding existing customers price hostages. In addition, and based on their own numbers, the slight drop expected in emissions such as Green House Gases compared to propane will be wiped out within five years. After this period emissions of climate-changing gases will still continue to cumulate each and every year as Terasen seeks to add more users to the system. Their own projections show a minimum 50 per cent increase in yearly emissions due to heating which, over 20 years, accumulate to add more than 25 times more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere!
If Terasen, as many other energy companies like BC Hydro, showed any interest in moving towards sustainability and developing a plan to wean us off their soon-to-be limited and expensive fossil fuels (due to global trading, limited supplies and emission taxes) then it might be worth considering a short term use of natural gas. Although, with a 50-year investment dependant on shipping fossil fuels, no corporate direction towards sustainability, and a captive audience forced to pay whatever the price of natural gas will go to during this time frame, why would they help our community switch off? In fact, the comments made in the article show that the company will put as much effort as possible into furthering the use of natural gas fossil fuels in Whistler as long as possible.