FortisBC RNG program celebrates 10th anniversary

By FortisBC Energy Inc. | August 12, 2021

FortisBC Energy Inc. is celebrating a significant milestone in climate action in British Columbia – the 10th anniversary of its renewable natural gas (RNG) program. FortisBC was the first utility in North America to offer RNG to its customers and the demand for RNG has grown substantially over the last decade. Over the last year and a half, the organization has been focused on growing RNG supply and moving forward with a number of projects and agreements to meet the growing demand for renewable energy.

When bacteria breaks down organic waste from sources such as landfill sites, agricultural waste and wastewater from treatment facilities, it produces a biogas mostly made of methane. FortisBC can capture and purify this biogas to create RNG, a carbon-neutral energy source, rather than releasing methane into the environment. As RNG mixes seamlessly into the existing natural gas infrastructure, it displaces equivalent volumes of conventional natural gas and lowers greenhouse gas emissions overall. To bring more RNG into British Columbia, FortisBC has been securing new supply contracts – approving 13 new supply agreements in 2020 and another four thus far this year.

"Our work in renewable gas started back in 2011 with the launch of our RNG program. I remember feeling excited and optimistic that we were able to provide reliable and affordable energy to our customers that could also reduce their greenhouse gas emissions," said Jason Wolfe, director of energy solutions at FortisBC. "The increasing demand for RNG showed that our customers were equally excited and we saw demand surpass available supply in 2019, forcing us to pause new enrollments to the program temporarily. Since then, we've made great progress in increasing our RNG supply and we're looking forward to opening the program back up later this fall."

Increasing the amount of RNG in the natural gas system is an important part of FortisBC's 30BY30 target, an ambitious goal to reduce customers' greenhouse gas emissions 30 per cent by 2030. Within this target, FortisBC has committed to making 15 percent of all gas in its system carbon neutral by 2030 – aligning with the provincial government's CleanBC strategy.

"The energy landscape has evolved and so have the needs of our customers, which is why renewable gases are a big part of a low carbon future for us and the province," said David Bennett, director of renewable gas and low carbon fuels at FortisBC. "We have come a long way since 2011 so I can only imagine where we'll be in the next 10 years – it really is an exciting time in the renewable energy space."

Government policy and regulation continues to evolve as the renewable gas sector grows. Earlier this summer, the Province announced changes to the Greenhouse Gas Reduction (Clean Energy) Regulation (GGRR), enabling higher volumes of renewable gas to be sold by utilities as well as providing new opportunities for renewable gas activity. Hydrogen is now being included for the first time, enabled by changes to the GGRR and supported by a new provincial hydrogen strategy.

FortisBC began receiving its first supply of biogas from a local dairy farm, Fraser Valley Biogas, in Abbotsford. Since then, new suppliers have ranged from wastewater treatment facilities to energy and agricultural companies to municipalities. FortisBC currently works with nine biogas producers (six in in B.C. and three out of province) to make RNG.

For more information on FortisBC RNG, visit: fortisbc.com/RNG.