WATCH: A new report is highlighting the need to be proactive and find another source of natural gas for New Brunswick. Global’s Laura Brown reports.
SAINT JOHN – A new report highlights the importance of securing a stable source of natural gas before the current supply is exhausted.
The report was commissioned by the Atlantica Centre for Energy and examines the natural gas supply and demand for New Brunswick and Nova Scotia between 2015 and 2025.
“Demand has grown since 1999,” said Colleen Mitchell, the group’s president. “It’s really just rocketed forward. Now we’ve built up that demand, where are we going to get the supply from?”
Mitchell says residential, small business and large users are concerned about what the future holds for natural gas and how that will impact the price.
Landlord Marilyn Bogle says her natural gas bill was $17,000 last winter, and that was just heating one of her three buildings.
“There was a supply shortage, and we got left out in the cold,” she said. “Somebody else got the natural gas and we didn’t and therefore we had to purchase natural gas for a much higher rate.”
She said this past winter was much more manageable. Natural gas prices went down and the delivery rate was reasonable.
But Bogle is worried about what the future holds.
Since 1999, Maritimers have been getting their natural gas from offshore Nova Scotia. But its supplies have started to deplete, and with a fracking moratorium in New Brunswick, the province has yet to develop an onshore backup.
New Brunswick Energy Minister Donald Arseneault said in a statement that he expects that the province’s commission on hydraulic fracturing will be examining this report. Mitchell confirmed that the Centre will be meeting with the commission.
The Centre’s report also recognizes that natural gas emits 60 per cent fewer greenhouse gas emissions than other fossil fuels. So Mitchell says this is also an environmental issue.
“How are we going to reach our greenhouse emissions targets? Part of the answer to that is using natural gas,” she said.
Bogle said if rates increase again, she won’t be able to stay in the real estate business much longer.
“I would probably be able to survive one more winter if it did that. After that I’d have to just lose the buildings or give them away because no one’s going to buy it either, that’s the problem,” she said.
“I can’t sell my building with that kind of a heating cost.”
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