A new study by Petroleum Research Atlantic Canada (PRAC) on five greenfield sites that have received or expanded natural gas service within the past 10 years reports that areas offering gas services are better able to retain industries that might otherwise relocate because of environmental standards and costs, and the communities become more competitive.

The study, “Natural Gas and its Impacts on Greenfield Areas,” was jointly funded by PRAC and the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency. Its objective was to determine the type of impacts that could be expected from making gas available, to develop a framework model to gauge the potential impacts of gas introduction and to apply the model to case studies in three regions in Atlantic Canada.

Analysts looked at five greenfield sites in other areas that had received or expanded their use of gas within the past decade: Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast, which received gas in 1991; southwestern Manitoba, which received service in late 1995 and 2000; Wingham, Blyth, and Brussels, ON, which received gas between 1996-1997; Lewis County, NY, where gas distribution began in 1996; and Chittenden and Franklin counties, VT, which began receiving gas in the mid-1960s.

“In most cases, the driving factor to bringing natural gas was the potential load of large industrial users,” the study found. “Marketing to small commercial and residential consumers varied in effort.”

Among other things, the study found that capital subsidies were instrumental in system construction and to encourage fuel switching for commercial and residential users. Also, energy cost savings were the “key” economic benefit for all sectors, especially for commercial and industrial applications. The framework model provided a series of structured questions and data sources needed to make informed decisions in new areas seeking natural gas service. This includes the region’s energy objectives, energy supply and market structure and distribution system costs.

For a complete copy of the Greenfield Gas Report, visit the PRAC website at www.pr-ac.ca.

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