Commercial transportation is the largest contributor to B.C.’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions at 25 per cent. According to FortisBC, the emissions rate in the Comox Valley is 60 per cent.
The company is appealing to Courtenay council to transition to CNG (compressed natural gas) in order to lower GHG emissions and to improve air quality. The City is interested in CNG to fuel contracted solid waste collection vehicles, and other fleet assets such as sweepers and vactor trucks.
“These vehicles are 10 times quieter than diesel that’ll be operating in your community,” Georgina Wheatcroft, manager of natural gas for transportation at Fortis, said in a July 15 presentation. “It’s almost half the cost of diesel right now to run natural gas vehicles.”
FortisBC has a time sensitive opportunity for funding from Natural Resource Canada to build a multi-fuelling station in the Comox Valley. The company is asking the City to support the station by including the requirement of CNG, or potentially RNG (renewable natural gas), in future requests for proposals for the waste hauling contract. Another option is to consider giving a heavier weighting for CNG-fuelled trucks in the RFP process.
“Our vision is that in the future, we would be able to offer RNG with methane that will be coming from your community,” Wheatcroft said. “You would be the first community on the Island to have this happen, where the waste from your homes would be back into your vehicles that pick up the waste. In future, we know there’s other fuelling that is going to come to light. We want to create a fuelling hub here.”
She said there are more than 1,000 medium- to heavy-duty vehicles running on natural gas in B.C. that have come through a Fortis incentive program.
“Most of those would be in the waste hauler sector and transit,” Wheatcroft said.
Coun. Doug Hillian — noting the transitional use of natural gas in the move away from fossil fuels — asked Wheatcroft to comment about public concerns about fracking and its inherent environmental risks.
“We do have an abundance of natural gas in this province, over 100-year supply,” she said. “Most of it’s coming from the traditional ways that we have gotten natural gas for years. Studies at this point are kind of mixed about fracking.”
The City has been in discussion with other regional local governments in an effort to co-ordinate and plan solid waste decisions, and options for curbside collection and regional composting.
A staff report in September will include more information on options for the solid waste contract.