We hear a lot in the news about the need to create jobs and fight climate change. Although the problem is well identified, you may be left wondering what is happening across the province that provides solutions. Let me introduce you to Markham District Energy (MDE).
MDE relies on clean natural gas to provide heating, cooling, and electricity in Markham with unrivalled reliability. This provides a competitive advantage to the community, fosters new business opportunities, and at the same time reduces emissions to combat climate change. The City of Markham in part credits the founding of Markham District Energy with bringing major employers like IBM to the community. Additionally, the recent growth of Downtown Markham, a new, residential and commercial development in the heart of the city, was enabled in part because of existing natural gas and district energy infrastructure.
Check out this short video to learn how they do it:
This advanced network means incredible reliability for Markham District Energy customers. Even during the worst storms and inclement weather customers have the peace of mind to focus on what they do best — whether it is providing a strong education, best-in-class hospitality, or leading healthcare services.
Markham District Energy customers and the broader community benefit in two key ways: Natural gas prices are competitive and stable due to an existing strong supply and existing distribution infrastructure and using a district energy system reduces overall emissions. In 2015 alone, MDE reduced greenhouse gas emissions in Markham by 17,000 tonnes — the equivalent of taking nearly 4,000 cars off the road. As more in the community recognize district energy’s potential the impact can be even greater.
It is great to see local leaders like Mayor Scarpitti and Markham Stouffville Hospital’s Jo-anne Marr champion the important role that natural gas is playing in their community.
Richard Cunningham at the Markham Board of Trade believes the community should look to expand MDE to encourage business growth. ONGA agrees and we are proud to be a part of the solution.
Watch the video and let us know what you think on Twitter at @NaturalGas_ON or you can reach me @jellerton.
Natural gas is one of the most versatile, reliable, clean and affordable sources of energy available in Ontario. For this reason and more, I’m proud to join the team at the Ontario Natural Gas Alliance (ONGA) as spokesperson.
Challenges that are top of mind to ONGA members are expanding access to natural gas access to reduce energy bills overall, and ensure the continued success of Ontario’s agriculture sector. And of course, helping confront the challenge of climate change.
Ontario has millions of existing natural gas distribution customers, ranging from home owners to electricity generation facilities, small businesses, public transportation systems, farms and agri-businesses, a variety of industrial consumers and legions of backyard barbeque enthusiasts. What each of these segments have in common is that they enjoy access to a reliable supply of clean and affordable natural gas. Unfortunately, not all Ontarians enjoy access to natural gas, and this puts some people at a competitive and economic disadvantage.
I am pleased to join an organization like ONGA that treats the expansion of natural gas distribution service in Ontario for what it is – an important public policy measure. It can increase economic growth, foster agricultural competiveness and reduce energy bills in the winter months, especially when compared to electricity for home-heating. In fact, ONGA has done great work highlighting the benefits of natural gas expansion in Red Lake, Ontario and the need for access for agri-business in Bruce County. As spokesperson for ONGA, I want to keep highlighting the need for increased access to natural gas distribution – it is too important for our economy to ignore.
For much of the past year, climate change has been front and centre in the news. The government of Ontario has introduced legislation that would, if passed, create a cap-and-trade system and join Ontario with the Western Climate Initiative.
Everyone at ONGA can agree on one thing: we are long passed the time to debate the merits of taking action to confront climate change and that now is the time to tackle the problem head-on. Having the resolve to confront climate change is one thing, but the approach must be constructive and done in a meaningful way that recognizes Ontario is already a leader in this fight.
The closure of coal-fired power plants dramatically reduced emissions in Ontario –the largest climate change mitigation measure in North America to date. Just as natural gas played a major role reducing emission from electricity generation, natural gas is similarly positioned to reduce overall emissions in the transportation sector.
The transportation sector is by far the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the province today. The opportunity of shifting more of the sector to natural gas would be of tremendous benefit to Ontario’s environment and economy, something decision-makers should examine and an issue I look forward to sharing more about.
In the coming weeks and months, I look forward to speaking about the role that natural gas can play for Ontarians, for the benefit of our climate and our economy.
I also want to hear what you have to say. You can reach out to ONGA through this website, on Twitter (@NaturalGas_ON) or you can reach me directly here: @jellerton.
Evolution rarely happens overnight. And in the case of natural gas as a way to power transport, for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, it’s happening one big truck at a time. As reported by Truck News, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) announced the complete conversion of its private fleet of 179 trucks to compressed natural gas. This fleet is based near Detroit, Michigan and hauls parts and supplies for Chrysler operations between company plants throughout the Midwest of the United States and Ontario.
The Ontario Natural Gas Alliance (ONGA) advocates of using clean, reliable and affordable natural gas for transportation and it is encouraging to see business around North America embrace compressed natural gas for their fleets.
FCA’s conversion represents a major investment of resources and confidence in compressed natural gas technology by Chrysler. The conversion itself took two years and US$40 million to complete, not counting the infrastructure investments needed for fuelling and a maintenance facility.
But while the capital investment was significant, the returns are similarly sized. The company expects to reduce costs on fuel by 35 per cent compared to diesel and perhaps most importantly, reduce CO2 emissions by more than 16,000 tonnes.
Truck News reports that company officials will monitor the conversion project in the United States before making such a transition in Ontario. ONGA would encourage Chrysler, and indeed all transportation businesses, to explore the myriad benefits of clean, reliable and affordable natural gas for transportation. Here in Ontario, companies like Groupe Robert have experienced both environmental and cost benefits by availing themselves of natural gas technology.
Take a moment to see first hand how clean, reliable and affordable natural gas is making a positive impact in Ontario:
Natural Gas Critical to Province’s Economic Prosperity
Toronto, Ontario, May 16, 2014 — With Ontarians heading to the polls in a provincial election on June 12, and affordable energy having already emerged as a key issue, the Ontario Natural Gas Alliance is providing a platform for voters to make their voices heard.
The upcoming provincial election signals Ontarians’ chance to let elected officials know how important energy—and energy savings—are to their collective pocketbooks, says ONGA spokesperson Stefan Baranski. “Ontarians who don’t have access to natural gas need it to lower their residential energy bills. Moreover, our government needs to consider how fuels such as natural gas can lower greenhouse gas emissions while giving operators a distinct competitive advantage,” he says. “Natural gas enabled the province’s coal phase out and it is time we realized the fuel’s full potential to help us build a better Ontario.”
To assist voters in communicating their concerns, a new online portal will offer an opportunity to connect directly to those vying for their vote. By visiting www.naturalgasnow.ca, voters can address the issue of affordable energy by sending letters directly to candidates in their local ridings.
According to ONGA, natural gas’ clean and affordable attributes can play a pivotal role in three distinct areas:
Natural Gas System Expansion
While the fuel is often taken for granted in urban centres, the majority of rural and northern Ontario families and businesses are without access to natural gas. Due to a lack of infrastructure, less than 20 per cent of rural residents have access to natural gas, and instead must rely on oil, propane or electric heat for homes and businesses—all of which come at a significantly higher cost. “Not having the option for natural gas is a significant economic disadvantage for these communities,” says Baranski. “Government support is critical if we are going to be able to expand the system to include these communities and would result in immediate and significant savings on their energy bills.”
Baranski adds that savings for businesses are even greater. Some medium sized commercial businesses would be able to save up to $15,000 per year by using natural gas.
Natural Gas for Transportation
The transition to natural gas vehicles could substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions, positively impacting Ontario’s environment. According to Ontario’s Long-Term Energy Plan, the transportation sector accounts for the largest percentage of emissions in Ontario. Natural gas, meanwhile, provides a significant carbon advantage, with a 20-25 per cent lower rate of GHG emissions compared to traditional transportation fuels.
Furthermore, with natural gas being up to 44 per cent less expensive than gasoline, and 45 per cent less expensive than diesel, the decreased costs would give operators a tremendous competitive advantage. “Integrating natural gas applications into Ontario’s transportation network will result in huge wins for Ontario, both economically and environmentally,” Baranski says.
Ontario’s Economic Opportunity
Natural gas-intensive companies in a range of industries including petrochemicals, mining, steel, and fertilizer production are seeking places to expand their existing production or create new operations and jobs. With natural gas prices up to three times more affordable, North America is a key area in their expansion search. An energy platform that includes natural gas gives industry all the more reason to establish and expand in Ontario. For places such as Ontario’s north, home to the Ring of Fire mining area, natural gas-fired electricity generation offers operators a scalable, rapidly deliverable way to meet their energy needs, without the requirement for new transmission capacity.
“Ontario requires bold action with respect to its energy policy,” says Baranski. “And Ontarians understand just how important this issue is to create competitive advantage. It is time for all Ontarians to fully benefit from clean and affordable natural gas so we can build a better future for our province.”
The Ontario Natural Gas Alliance (ONGA) is a partnership between two of Ontario’s leading natural gas distribution companies, Enbridge Gas Distribution and Union Gas. ONGA was created to help the public understand the vital role natural gas can play in Ontario’s future-forward clean energy mix. ONGA is dedicated to education around the many positive attributes of natural gas, including its affordability, cleanliness and potential to fuel an economic revitalization that will create jobs and expand Ontario’s economy. For more information, please visit: www.cleanandaffordable.ca.
For more information, or to schedule an interview, please contact:
The federal government’s recent report, Evaluation of the Winter Performance of Compressed Natural Gas Refuse Trucks, has confirmed what this blog has believed all along: natural gas trucks perform well, in even the harshest Canadian cold-weather conditions.
Demonstrating the practical applications of natural gas, while also instituting new heavy vehicle emission standards for heavy vehicles, is a priority for Transport Canada. That’s why they documented and studied the cold-weather operation of a compressed natural gas refuse truck fleet – 18 Peterbilt trucks with Cummins Westport 8.9 litre engines, in all – owned and operated by EBI (a Berthierville, Quebec-based company). The study also tracked a 58-vehicle CNG fleet of refuse trucks operating in Winnipeg by Emterra Environmental.
The real-world experience of one of Canada’s first heavy natural gas fleets was documented. EBI has been operating the trucks for over two years, at winter temperatures as low as -16ºC. The report found that CNG trucks operate well, with no issues in cold weather, provided normal winter aids are used and the vehicle’s design is suitable for cold weather. In fact, they were so suitable that EBI has since gone on to purchase another 32 natural gas trucks for their performance, emissions benefits, and their fuel savings over diesel.
EBI’s president Pierre Sylvestre, put it this way: “Natural gas is a great option that offers fuel savings from day one. We’re proud of our natural gas fleet. We’re also investing in a network of public stations to bring CNG to the broader Quebec market.”
“More private-sector investments like EBI’s should be encouraged as they accelerate the transition to lower emission vehicle use in Canada,” says Alicia Milner, President of the Canadian Natural Gas Vehicle Alliance.
Do you feel natural gas holds the key to a cleaner, more affordable and reliable future for heavy transport? Let us know in the comments section provided below.
Source: “Natural gas trucks cold weather performance,” 11/15/13, Canadian Newswire Group