B.C. greenhouses face steep heating bills after pipeline explosion

Costs skyrocketed after the blast choked off natural gas supplies.

Some Langley greenhouse owners are getting hammered by sharp increases in natural gas prices caused by the pipeline explosion near Prince George.

“It’s brutal,” said Lawrence Jansen, CEO of Darvonda Nurseries.

In early October, Darvonda was paying about $3.50 per gigajoule of natural gas.

But after the Oct. 9 pipeline blast, the supply to the Lower Mainland was reduced. While Fortis encouraged homeowners to take shorter showers and to turn down their thermostats, some greenhouses saw energy prices skyrocket.

Within a day, the price at the Northwest Sumas gas hub had shot up to more than $10 per gigajoule. In late November, it was above $25 on several days, and on Nov. 16 it was $86.70.

Darvonda bought gas at lower, “interruptible” rates, which means they were vulnerable to sudden shifts in price.

That has meant some major changes for Darvonda and some other local nurseries.

READ MORE: B.C.’s natural gas supply could see 50% dip through winter due to pipeline blast

At Darvonda, a four-acre greenhouse full of cucumber plants should have been harvested for a week and a half more. But the gas price made it too unprofitable, and Jansen said they shut it down, losing about 50,000 cucumbers.

“We had to move a lot of our plants to a different facility, that has fixed [natural gas] rates,” Jansen said.

Local natural gas, “downstream” of the pipeline rupture, has had to come through a 30 inch, older pipeline instead of a 36 inch pipeline, said David Grewal of Absolute Energy.

“That has constrained supply significantly,” he said.

The huge price spike on Nov. 16 was caused by maintenance on the pipeline.

It’s simply a bottleneck in supply, said Grewal.

Darvonda has also reduced heat in the greenhouse where its poinsettia plants are waiting to be shipped out to stores, and at its annual GLOW seasonal light show.

“We’re amazed at how fragile the whole system is,” said Jansen.

Even greenhouses that don’t rely on natural gas for heating are feeling the impacts second-hand.

“The month of November has been mild enough that our biomass boilers have been enough,” said Leo Benne of Bevo Farms.

Bevo supplies new seedling plants for many other greenhouses, and Benne said their clients are seeing shortened growing periods, or considering starting crops later.

That could affect Bevo – some clients are looking into when they’ll order their plants in the new year.

“So far, we’re making it work,” said Benne.

Meanwhile, Darvonda is still growing tomatoes and planning for next year. It’s tempting to switch to buying gas at locked-in prices, but buyers can’t switch immediately, Jansen said.

For now, they’re using as little natural gas as possible.

“We’re probably using less than half what we would normally use,” he said.

_________________________________

Is there more to this story?

mclaxton@langleyadvance.com

Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter

_________________________________

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Just Posted

FortisBC offers 90-day bill deferrals to customers impacted by COVID-19

Customers can apply for the relief program through the utility’s website

Utility bill relief coming for Castlegar residents

Due dates for utility bills pushed back to July.

Regional District of Central Kootenay changes services due to COVID-19

Building inspections and GIS services are some of the services impacted

Frustrated MLA begs out of province visitors to stay home

Columbia River Revelstoke MLA Doug Clovechok doesn’t understand why people aren’t listening to good advice

Castlegar council split over COVID-19 relief

Due dates for utility bills pushed back to July.

COVID-19: 4 new deaths, 25 new cases but only in Vancouver Coastal, Fraser Health

A total of 1,291 people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus

Blasting through the West Kootenay

80 years ago; ‘Pretty near all the people from Fruitvale were working on it’

COVID-19: Don’t get away for Easter weekend, Dr. Bonnie Henry warns

John Horgan, Adrian Dix call 130 faith leaders as holidays approach

COVID-19: Trudeau says 30K ventilators on the way; 3.6M Canadians claim benefits

Canada has seen more than 17,000 cases and at least 345 deaths due to COVID-19

RCMP call on kids to name latest foal recruits

The baby horses names are to start with the letter ‘S’

As Canadians return home amid pandemic, border crossings dip to just 5% of usual traffic

Non-commercial land crossing dipped by 95%, air travel dropped by 96 per cent, according to the CBSA

Logan Boulet Effect: Green Shirt Day calls on Canadians to become organ donors

While social distancing, the day also honours the 16 lives lost in the 2018 Humboldt Broncos Crash

COMMENTARY: Knowing where COVID-19 cases are does not protect you

Dr. Bonnie Henry explains why B.C. withholds community names

Most Read