The British Columbia Ministry of Energy and Mines has adopted a regulation to allow utilities in the province to spend millions of dollars on natural gas vehicles and infrastructure.
The regulation "will help us build on our global leadership in clean transportation, bringing new jobs and more economic opportunities to the province," Energy Minister Rich Coleman said in a statement Tuesday after the rule was approved.
The Greenhouse Gas Reduction Regulation permits a utility to spend up to CA$62 million on vehicle and ferry incentives, up to CA$12 million on compressed natural gas fueling stations and up to CA$30.5 million on liquefied natural gas stations, for a total CA$104.5 million, the ministry said in a statement. The regulation enables utility companies to deliver natural gas transportation programs through March 31, 2017.
The ministry asserted the regulation will promote the use of the province's gas resources as a transportation fuel in heavy-duty transport vehicles, such as trucks, transit buses, school buses, refuse trucks and marine vessels.
British Columbia is home to natural gas vehicle industries, including engine and refueling technology, the ministry noted. Among them is Cummins Westport, a joint venture between engine manufacturers Cummins Inc. and Westport Innovations.
"This is a positive step that will promote the use of domestic British Columbian natural gas as a transportation fuel, and generate both environmental and economic benefits for our province and residents," said David Demers, CEO of Westport Innovations, in a separate statement. "British Columbia is home to world-class companies that both generate and use natural gas transportation technology, and this program will allow the accelerated adoption of natural gas heavy-duty vehicles."
LOCAL UTILITY SAYS FAVORS RULE
British Columbia utility FortisBC, which has about 1.1 million customers, Wednesday said it supported the goals of the new regulation.
Doug Stout, vice president of energy solutions and external relations for FortisBC, said the company "sees the potential of liquefied and compressed natural gas as a transportation fuel solution in British Columbia." The company has been working with several public and private organizations to expand their use of natural gas, he said in a statement.
FortisBC will be applying to the British Columbia Utilities Commission for a determination on how NGV program costs will be recovered from all gas utility customers, Stout said. It is anticipated that the long-term effect of the program will be a positive impact to customers' delivery rates, he said.
During the initial phase of the program, FortisBC said it will provide up to 80% of new incentives for the incremental cost of a natural gas vehicle. FortisBC's plan is to decrease the funding by 10%/each following year of the program as the adoption of natural gas vehicles in heavy-duty transportation increases. As natural gas fuel use in the heavy-duty transportation sector matures over time, FortisBC said it believes that incentives will no longer be necessary.