Natural gas is a type of fuel, like gasoline or diesel, used to drive engines or heat buildings. After it is removed from the ground it can be refrigerated to minus 162°C; at that temperature it turns into liquid (referred to as LNG or liquefied natural gas) that takes up far less space so that it can be economically transported. It is also stored as a liquid until ready for use, at which time it is returned to a gas.
This video provides you with more information about liquefied natural gas.
As an isolated grid in one of the world’s least-forgiving environments, it’s crucial that we have a reliable backup system. Until recently, we used diesel generators during power outages, to supplement our hydro in very cold weather, and during droughts.
However, some of our backup diesel generators were old and had to be retired. Since we are mandated to provide a backup system, we needed to replace them. Three life cycle assessments done by independent agencies showed that switching from diesel to natural gas would save us significant amounts of money, produce fewer greenhouse gas, particulate and nitrogen oxide air emissions, and would be quieter and more efficient to operate. You can read the assessment below. Based on what we learned through the assessments, we made the decision to replace two of our oldest diesels with natural gas generators.
As with diesel, we will only use our natural gas units for emergency back-up or peaking during the cold winter months. The vast majority of power we produce will continue to be from renewable sources (in 2016 close to 99 percent of the electricity we generated was from hydro and wind).
Thermal (both diesel and LNG) are being considered in the work we are doing our 2016 Resource Plan.
There are rigourous safety features built into our LNG facility. You can read about them in the brochure found below.