UPDATED: Heritage Gas gets green light

John Brannen
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Review board approves two applications for residential expansion, gas storage

DARTMOUTH – Natural gas may move into residential areas in Pictou County a little easier. That’s according to Heritage Gas, which received approval from its regulator for its plans on residential expansion and gas storage.

In separate decisions released Thursday by the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board (UARB), the regulator approved Heritage Gas’s application to loosen the criteria to evaluate projects and streets for natural gas service, as well as the company’s application to include natural gas storage as part of its regulated business.

Heritage Gas president Bill Swan said the decisions will deliver significant benefits to homeowners and businesses.

“By changing the market rules on natural gas, Heritage Gas will be able to extend access to more customers – particularly to residential streets that are not supported by an anchor customer,” he said. “This is good news for customers who are looking to access the benefits of being on natural gas.” 

Chris Smith, a spokesman for Heritage Gas, noted that there’s still work to be done before residents of New Glasgow and Stellarton will feel the positive effects, namely, getting natural gas into these areas.

“First we have to get to those towns on board, which we’re planning for this summer,” said Smith. “But we have some work to do recruit people to justify the economics.”

The latest decision means that the UARB allowed changes to the rules that govern Heritage Gas when it comes to expansion into residential areas. The challenge now is to convince enough people in Stellarton and New Glasgow that natural gas is the way to go.

“Right now we’re more focused on short term, which means recruiting larger businesses, hospitals and any large buildings to help anchor the line,” said Smith. “Then, more residential connections will grow off those lines in the main streets of the towns.”

Heritage Gas is hoping that potential and current customers will be encouraged by the second decision of the UARB to allow for storage of natural gas in Colchester County. Alton Natural Gas Storage has been engaged to build a storage cavern in that area.

“This will allow customers to buy gas at a cheaper rate in summer and lower rate in winter,” Smith noted. “Because we’re at the end of the North American pipeline system and the offshore stores are depleting, storage of natural gas would help to avoid price fluctuations and provide customers with more stable pricing.”

He noted it’s not final yet as the UARB said they would take part in the regulating of this storage.

“Including natural gas storage costs in the company’s cost of service also ensures that the regulator is providing oversight on behalf of customers,” said Swan. “Heritage Gas is committed to providing the lowest cost energy choice to our customers – natural gas storage will help Heritage Gas provide more stable prices for our customers.”

john.brannen@ngnews.ca

On Twitter: @NGNewsJohn

Organizations: UARB, Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board, AltaGas Utility Group Inc. AltaGas

Geographic location: Nova Scotia

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