How the Enbridge Pipeline Explosion Will Affect B.C. Natural Gas Supply

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December 18, 2018
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People report being able to see the flames from miles away, and photos taken and posted online serve as proof. The recent rupture of the natural gas pipeline owned by Enbridge has been a sobering reminder of the volatility of our energy resources. Fortunately, due to the location of the pipeline, no one was hurt.

What Happened

Under pressure as high as 900 PSI, the pipeline ruptured and natural gas was ignited. Because of the high pressure, the gas was spewed out of the pipe with enormous force. This resulted in the towering flames that could be seen for miles around. A natural gas pipeline must be carefully maintained, but even with good maintenance, there is always the possibility of an accident like this one.

Authorities quickly acted to evacuate people who may have been in danger. Around 100 members of the Lheidli T’enneh First Nation had to leave their homes. Enbridge responded appropriately by depressurizing two lines in the area, reducing the possibility of further damage. Further, the evacuation zone was initially expanded as far out as several kilometers to make sure no one was in danger.

How This Will Affect Natural Gas in B.C.

The repairs are well underway, and the restored functionality of the pipeline will still enable natural gas to be delivered to the B.C. community. However, steps have been taken to make sure the pressure in the line is reduced in order to minimize the possibility of another incident—at least until Enbridge and the authorities concerned are satisfied that the risk level is acceptable.

The reduced pressure naturally results in less gas being run through the line. If residents of the area were to continue to use the same amount of natural gas that they had been using prior to the incident, the supply may be depleted to the point where some of the more crucial uses of natural gas cannot occur. There are residences, businesses, and public facilities that need natural gas in order to keep warm. With winter well upon us, insufficient heat due to a shortage of natural gas could pose a tangible danger. Everyone can do their part by limiting the amount of natural gas used.

A Move to Electric Heat

With the resulting shortage of gas, electric heat is going to have to be the go-to solution for many thousands of British Columbians. Even though electric heat got a bad rap years ago, with the new innovations of today’s modern heat pumps, significant energy savings can be realized. And it will be necessary, particularly if the NDP government still plans on reaching its climate objectives in the wake of this incident.

Rebates to Make the Move Easier

Not only will the environment benefit, but so will your pocket if you take advantage of the rebate structures available. You can get $1,200 if you switch your electric heating system out and install a central system heat pump. You can also get $2,000 if you install a variable speed air source central system heat pump. Some areas are even offering an additional $2,000 if you convert your system from one based on a fossil fuel heat source to an electric source heat pump.

Everyone Has to Chip In

The climate plan is going to require some big changes, particularly in light of this accident. The consumption of fossil fuels will need to be reduced at an unprecedented level. Switching from gas-powered to electric cars is one way for individuals to help the situation. However, with the expense involved in this, many homeowners will find converting or adjusting their current heating system a much more affordable option.

The Enbridge incident will have far-reaching effects on the natural gas supply as well as how we go about heating our homes, traveling, and conducting business. However, if everyone chips in to do their part, it is still possible for residents to be comfortable in their homes and for the area to meet its environmental goals.

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