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

_________________________________

 

Just Posted

Kelowna RCMP officer allegedly sexts assault victim

RCMP confirm investigation but hold back details

Two Okanagan players join Team Canada for Womens U18 World Championships

Anne Cherkowski and Sarah Paul will join the womens World Juniors team Dec. 26

WATCH: ‘Stubborn’ fire destroys Big White Ski Resort chalet

The building, which lit up in flames around 2 a.m., was an infamous spot to Big White locals

Warriors looking for Teddy, hoping for win

West Kelowna hosts their annual Teddy Bear Toss fundraiser Saturday night

Price for one-bedroom rentals in Kelowna jumped 10.8% from October to November

Out of 34 Canadian cities, report said Kelowna had highest monthly rent increase

VIDEO: Success of wildlife corridors in Banff National Park has advocates wanting more

Demand for more highway protection escalated after seven elk were killed by a semi-trailer near Canmore

B.C. VIEWS: Hunger does not end with the season

Despite innovations in food distribution, the need is still there in B.C. communities

Legendary primatologist coming to Okanagan

Dame Jane Goodall, founder of the Jane Goodall Institute, will present in Vernon Tuesday, March 24

Old Christmas card has ties to Summerland agriculture

Card was sent by former director of Summerland Research Station

Sharks beat Canucks 4-2 to snap 6-game skid

Vancouver visits Vegas on Sunday

Fans sing Canadian anthem after sound system breaks at BMW IBSF World Cup

The Canadians in attendance made sure their team and flag were honoured on the podium

Frosty will have to pay rent to stay on Okanagan sidewalk next Christmas

Vernon Teach and Learn allowed to keep Frosty up, but will need a permit come January 1

Prince George RCMP use bait packages to catch porch pirates over the holidays

First-in-Canada program with Amazon looks to combat parcel theft

Conservation officers on the hunt for North Okanagan moose poachers

Officers execute search warrant Friday morning, investigation continues

Most Read