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Utilities - The Foundation

Ongoing Leadership

Canada's natural gas distribution companies have provided ongoing leadership to support the development of the natural gas vehicle industry in Canada. These local gas distribution companies deliver natural gas to customers and ensure the safe operation and maintenance of the gas distribution network within communities across Canada. Utilities work with local authorities to ensure compliance with codes, standards, and regulations related to the safe handling of natural gas as a fuel.

The natural gas distribution industry serves an estimated 6 million customers and delivers one-third of the total energy used by Canadians. Natural gas utilities do not make a profit on the sale of the natural gas itself, only on its distribution to customers.

A leader in natural gas distribution, Union Gas serves 1.3 million residential, commercial, and industrial customers across Ontario. In addition to its distribution services, the company leads the transmission and storage market with the Dawn Hub, the largest underground storage facility in Canada, and one of the largest in North America. The facility offers Union Gas customers an important link to Western Canadian and American natural gas supply basins.

Lead by Example

Within Canada's natural gas distribution industry, there are a number of utilities who lead by example when it comes to natural gas as a fleet transportation fuel including ATCO Gas in Alberta, Enbridge Gas Distribution in Ontario, SaskEnergy in Saskatchewan, and FortisBC in British Columbia. In each case, utility fleet vehicles operate on compressed natural gas as a way to reduce the environmental impact of fleet operations using a lower cost fuel. Québec-based Gaz Métro is also currently assessing the use of medium-duty natural gas dump trucks for its own fleet.

Van_Pool_008Enbridge Gas Distribution has extended its experience with fleet use of natural gas to an innovative commuter van program for employees. Started in 2005, this innovative ride sharing program has grown to include six vans that transport nine employees each resulting in an emissions benefit from removing 48 cars from the road each day.

Natural gas utilities often maintain refuelling stations and smaller compressors known as vehicle refuelling appliances. In addition, in many instances, the utilities work with local fuel retailers to provide natural gas at Canada's 80 public natural gas refuelling stations. The CNGVA's utility members also act as local resources within their franchise areas to support existing natural gas vehicle owners and to provide information and programs for  fleets considering the use of natural gas so as to reduce fuel costs and lessen the environmental impact of their operations.

Innovation in Creating New Markets

Westport_LNG1Building on the industry's core strengths in local gas distribution, Canada's natural gas utilities are also innovating to create new markets for natural gas. For example, Gaz Métro is working to develop the market for liquefied natural gas as a cost effective, lower carbon fuel for highway tractors. Both FortisBC and Enbridge Gas Distribution are involved in renewable natural gas projects which will give local fleets access to near zero emission green gas. ATCO Gas is partnering with other Alberta-based industry members to focus on urban fleet opportunities.

With carbon emissions from transportation sources growing at a rate that is well above the national average since 1990, there is a role for natural gas as a lower carbon transportation fuel delivered by Canada's natural gas utilities.