The British Columbia Utilities Commission (BCUC) has voted downthe BC Gas Southern Crossing Pipeline, a $350 million pipeline thatwould have paralleled the existing BC Gas mainline in southernBritish Columbia between Yahk and Oliver.

“The commission in its decision felt that the projected growthin demand from residential and commercial customers alone on the BCGas system were not sufficient to justify the large capitalexpenditure at this time,” BC Gas said in a statement. BC Gas saidthe commission did agree with its assessment that a major newsupply resource addition is required within the next five years toserve the growth in peak and seasonal demand, particularly in theLower Mainland. The commission ordered BC Gas to explore synergiesbetween the seasonal and peaking needs of its customers and thefirm pipeline capacity requirements represented by new thermalgeneration plants. BC Hydro is looking at firming up gastransportation for increased power load. Once BC Gas contractscapacity to BC Hydro, it could purchase some of the capacity backduring peak demand periods for gas, explained Randy Jesperson, BCGas senior vice president for gas supply. BC Gas is to file aprogress report on negotiations with BC Hydro for an alternativeproject by July 3. A firm proposal on that project is due no laterthan Oct. 2.

John Davis, manager of business development for Williams GasPipelines West, which includes Northwest Pipeline, said it isunclear whether BC Gas will choose to contract for space on itsColumbia River Gorge project, a competitor to Southern Crossing.”We really don’t know at this point in time.” A BC Gas spokesmansaid the company was busy examining its options with BC Hydro. Thesecond open season on Columbia River Gorge is due to end May 7, 30days after the decision on Southern Crossing, as specified earlier.

A number of liquefied natural gas (LNG) storage projects alsoare contemplated to meet peak shaving demand in the region.Westcoast Energy said it is pleased with the BCUC decision onSouthern Crossing and said it supports its LNG peak shaving projectto meet the requirements of the Lower Mainland. Westcoast isn’t theonly company with LNG project plans, though. BC Gas has a potentialproject, as do, Pacific Gas Transmission and Williams InternationalPipeline Co.

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