URB approves plan for expansion into Stellarton, New Glasgow

John Brannen
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NEW GLASGOW – Plans for natural gas expansion into Stellarton and New Glasgow are not only technically but also economically sound.

Workers load 60-foot lengths of pipe on a flatbed in preparation for Heritage Gas’s expansion into New Glasgow and Stellarton. Over the next week they will be laying out pipe with digging or directional drilling expected to begin late next week. CHRISTOPHER CAMERON – THE NEWS

That’s according to the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board in their decision announced Tuesday to approve Heritage Gas’s economic plan to expand into the two Pictou County towns.

Chris Smith of Heritage Gas noted that the company does everything needed for the review board, including obtaining approval for the technical and economic plans for expansion to residential areas of the county.

“While it’s great that the project is technically sound, it’s important that what we build makes sense from an economic perspective.”

Smith noted that Heritage Gas proposed that the expansion into Pictou County take place in three phases. First, the company moved forward with the construction of facilities to serve Northern Pulp, then Michelin and now on to Stellarton and New Glasgow.

The report noted that the board’s consultant, Energy Consultants International Inc. (ECI), and the Consumer Advocate both agreed the expansion was prudent and wouldn’t harm current ratepayers.

“As a single project, ECI finds that the expansion of gas service to Northern Pulp, Michelin, and the towns is supported by the board's approved test for economic expansion, the Community Feasibility Test,” read the report.

The board would like to see actual costs once the project is completed to see how they compare to Heritage’s estimates.

According to Smith, construction on the 15 kilometres of pipe that will carry natural gas to 600 residential and commercial customers in New Glasgow and Stellarton is underway. Natural gas activation is expected to occur by the end of this year.

“We try to pick a path that picks up as many pipe routes then build a spine where other pipe can network off,” said Smith. “We’ll be making sure we serve customer needs then continuing to branch off these networks.”

The board indicated that the technical and economic approval was sought contemporaneously and construction began before economics approval was given. As a result the board directed Heritage to time its applications in future so the economic analysis approval is in place before the permits to construct are approved and construction starts.

 

john.brannen@ngnews.ca

On Twitter: @NGNewsJohn

Organizations: Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board

Geographic location: Stellarton, New Glasgow, Pictou County Northern Pulp

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