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WHEREAS sourcing of natural gas is a high priority of municipalities and natural gas co-ops in rural Alberta in order to serve our residents; and
WHEREAS high volumes of natural gas are available through privately-owned pipelines; and
WHEREAS rural municipalities and gas co-ops use privately-owned, high-pressure pipelines to supply natural gas to their customers and constituents; and
WHEREAS some privately-owned pipelines are being abandoned because they are no longer viable for the owner; and
WHEREAS rural municipalities and gas co-ops face additional costs and uncertainties because of these abandonments; and
WHEREAS these uncertainties limit cost-effective planning and expansion of natural gas systems for rural municipalities and gas co-ops;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties, in conjunction with the Federation of Alberta Gas Co-ops and Gas Alberta, request the governments of Canada and Alberta to develop legislation and provide financial assistance to maintain certainty of access to natural gas pipelines for rural municipalities and gas co-ops in Alberta.
Oil and gas companies are the current owners of the Alberta Gas Trunk Line (AGTL) and Nova pipeline facilities built across Alberta generations ago.
Across Alberta, many towns, villages, counties and rural natural gas co-ops have used these pipelines and facilities to supply natural gas to their communities. Many of these pipelines have become uneconomic to operate for their owners and are being scheduled for closure and abandonment. Some of these are located in Lac La Biche County.
If these abandonments are allowed to continue, rural Albertans will have to absorb additional costs for new infrastructure to replace the abandoned pipelines. In Lac La Biche County’s case, a potential line abandonment would cost the local gas co-operative $410,000 for a new regulating/metering/odourizing station plus pipeline costs to the new location and limit any needed expansion of the Hamlet of Lac La Biche’s natural gas system for future needs.
The AAMDC has no active resolutions directly related to this issue.
The Government of Alberta (GOA) will continue to work collaboratively with the AAMDC and other stakeholders to ensure their concerns are addressed in a timely and environmentally responsible manner.
In February 2014, a rupture occurred on a NOVA Gas Transmission pipeline near Rocky Mountain House. Emergency supplies of compressed natural gas were required to maintain service to Rocky Gas Co-op customers. Prompted by the 2014 pipeline failure, along with previous incidents, the National Energy Board (NEB) issued a safety order in March 2014 to TransCanada PipeLines (TCP) to inspect over 20 high-risk pipeline segments in Alberta by the end of 2015. TCP subsequently developed a long-term strategy to verify the integrity of the majority of its pipeline systems over the next 10 years.
In August 2016, TCP filed an application with the NEB for the Peace River Mainline Abandonment Project. There is no indication at the moment when the decision on this application will be made by the NEB. TCP has advised Gas Alberta and the Federation of Alberta Gas Co-ops that there may be more supply pipelines that could be facing abandonment.
Alberta Agriculture and Forestry:
Alberta Agriculture and Forestry appreciates the concerns and uncertainty caused by the potential abandonment of privately owned natural gas transmission pipelines in Alberta. Since the Rural Gas Program began, the GOA has contributed over $500 million towards the rural natural gas distribution system’s capital costs. There has also been no reduction in the level of funding support since the budget was revised to $3.05 million in 2001. All distributors are able to access this grant funding, and all regions of Alberta where natural gas is readily available are supported equitably.
The GOA has challenged Gas Alberta and the Federation of Alberta Gas Co-ops to identify alternative funding options on the decommissioning of transmission pipelines. These approaches may encourage the federation and its members to develop a strategic plan for the long-term sustainability of rural gas co-operatives. We also invite the AAMDC to work with its members’ natural gas distributors and suppliers alongside engagement with government in seeking solutions to this issue.
The AAMDC recognizes the on-going funding to support the Rural Gas Program and although the Government of Alberta has challenged Gas Alberta and the Federation of Alberta Gas Co-ops to identify alternative funding options on the decommissioning of transmission pipelines, the response lacks commitments of additional funding or legislative changes. As such, the resolution is deemed Intent Not Met.