B.C. greenhouses face steep heating bills after pipeline explosion

Costs skyrocketed after the blast choked off natural gas supplies.

Some Langley greenhouse owners are getting hammered by sharp increases in natural gas prices caused by the pipeline explosion near Prince George.

“It’s brutal,” said Lawrence Jansen, CEO of Darvonda Nurseries.

In early October, Darvonda was paying about $3.50 per gigajoule of natural gas.

But after the Oct. 9 pipeline blast, the supply to the Lower Mainland was reduced. While Fortis encouraged homeowners to take shorter showers and to turn down their thermostats, some greenhouses saw energy prices skyrocket.

Within a day, the price at the Northwest Sumas gas hub had shot up to more than $10 per gigajoule. In late November, it was above $25 on several days, and on Nov. 16 it was $86.70.

Darvonda bought gas at lower, “interruptible” rates, which means they were vulnerable to sudden shifts in price.

That has meant some major changes for Darvonda and some other local nurseries.

READ MORE: B.C.’s natural gas supply could see 50% dip through winter due to pipeline blast

At Darvonda, a four-acre greenhouse full of cucumber plants should have been harvested for a week and a half more. But the gas price made it too unprofitable, and Jansen said they shut it down, losing about 50,000 cucumbers.

“We had to move a lot of our plants to a different facility, that has fixed [natural gas] rates,” Jansen said.

Local natural gas, “downstream” of the pipeline rupture, has had to come through a 30 inch, older pipeline instead of a 36 inch pipeline, said David Grewal of Absolute Energy.

“That has constrained supply significantly,” he said.

The huge price spike on Nov. 16 was caused by maintenance on the pipeline.

It’s simply a bottleneck in supply, said Grewal.

Darvonda has also reduced heat in the greenhouse where its poinsettia plants are waiting to be shipped out to stores, and at its annual GLOW seasonal light show.

“We’re amazed at how fragile the whole system is,” said Jansen.

Even greenhouses that don’t rely on natural gas for heating are feeling the impacts second-hand.

“The month of November has been mild enough that our biomass boilers have been enough,” said Leo Benne of Bevo Farms.

Bevo supplies new seedling plants for many other greenhouses, and Benne said their clients are seeing shortened growing periods, or considering starting crops later.

That could affect Bevo – some clients are looking into when they’ll order their plants in the new year.

“So far, we’re making it work,” said Benne.

Meanwhile, Darvonda is still growing tomatoes and planning for next year. It’s tempting to switch to buying gas at locked-in prices, but buyers can’t switch immediately, Jansen said.

For now, they’re using as little natural gas as possible.

“We’re probably using less than half what we would normally use,” he said.

_________________________________

Is there more to this story?

mclaxton@langleyadvance.com

Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter

_________________________________

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Just Posted

CVRD reopening head office, playgrounds, washrooms and more

Move part of staged reopening plan for all district facilities

Editorial: What comes next for the homeless?

We hope there is a plan in the works to make this housing-for-all push more permanent.

Paintings stolen from Honeymoon Bay studio returned

Hutchings said he received a lot of feedback from the community

3 people found violating court imposed curfews in Cowichan

People are placed on curfews for a variety of public safety reasons.

No parking on Thain Road, Shawnigan police remind

Warmer weather brings complaints near Cobble Hill quarry

22 new COVID-19 test-positives, one death following days of low case counts in B.C.

Health officials urged British Columbians to ‘stand together while staying apart’

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

Federal aid for care home systems needed ahead of second wave, advocates say

Ontario Long Term Care Association calling for more action

B.C. woman, 26, fatally shot by police in Edmundston, N.B.

Police were conducting a well-being check at the time of the incident

Horgan calls for national anti-racism program; will pitch idea to PM, premiers

Premier John Horgan said he’s horrified by the death of George Floyd in the United States

Chilliwack dad rescues two young daughters after truck plunges into lake

“I used every single one of my angels that day,” said Dennis Saulnier

VIDEO: Internal investigation into aggressive arrest by Kelowna Mountie

A video allegedly shows a Kelowna Mountie striking a man several times

Gold River ready to welcome visitors and restart local businesses

In contrast to single-industry remote communities, Gold River’s diversified economy might help it better survive after reopening

Most Read