ANTIGONISH: A project that would have seen the expansion of natural gas services into Antigonish has been postponed.
In 2014, Dartmouth-based Heritage Gas received approval from the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board (NSUARB) to distribute natural gas to Antigonish using compressed natural gas (CNG) trucking.
“Essentially, there were conditions associated with that approval that Heritage Gas, as a regulated entity, must abide to,” said Mike Johnston, director of regulatory and government affairs for Heritage Gas. “One of the items that we needed to do was notify the board if revenue forecasts change.”
In compliance with the NSUARB’s rules, Heritage Gas filed a letter earlier this month stating that the forecasted revenue for the expansion was lower than predicted in the initial assessment, and the project was delayed.
Johnston said all system expansions are based on customer demand, which is currently lower in Antigonish than what the company projected in 2014. He noted there are many factors that go into any feasibility study, including revenue and justification of costs. However, he said the company is hopeful that the project will go ahead in the future.
“Despite the delay, we continue to be excited about the opportunity to bring gas into Antigonish County,” said Johnston.
“We’re going to continue to monitor and evaluate the opportunity… and we’ll continue to update the board on the status and next steps as we assess that.”
Antigonish County Warden Owen McCarron said that the expansion would have given local residents and business more energy choices.
“Obviously, we’re a bit disappointed that it is postponed,” said McCarron. “But we also understand that for Heritage to file their application with the UARB, they had to provide a load figure for end use.”
McCarron said that access to gas is not an issue from the company’s standpoint, and he doesn’t believe the delay will have a lasting negative impact on the community.
“[The expansion] would provide more options in terms of leveling the playing field of energy costs for heating, but in the short term, we don’t view this as a really negative thing,” said McCarron.
“They tell us it’s only a delay… They’re still working hard to get the numbers to work to bring gas into our community.”
Despite what he calls a bump in the road, McCarron said that the municipality plans to work closely with Heritage Gas to provide service to Antigonish in the future.