Share Healthy Changes – Not Fossil Fuels – Prince Rupert Northern View

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Dear editor,

Subject: January 5 article “Natural gas prices to fall”

Reading the newspaper over the weekend, I saw on page 2 Rod Link’s article ‘Natural gas prices fall’, citing a modest cut in gas prices for residential customers from Vanderhoof to Prince Rupert. But while northern BC residents “are bearing the costs of the pipeline and PNG’s operations” due to a lack of large industrial customers, the rest of the province has begun to phase out fossil fuel heating of their homes.

Did you know that buildings and homes in this country are responsible for 18 percent of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions? Or that the fuel used in our gas stoves and heating systems comes from hydraulic fracking wells in northeast BC? Or that three quarters of your herd’s emissions come from being off? These facts had eluded me until recently when I started replacing my inefficient water heater. I started researching and found many provincial grants and the federal Greener Homes Grant that alleviate some of the cost burden (up to $5,000) of switching to more energy efficient home solutions. A grant offers a $4,000 incentive for households to go completely fossil fuel, and yes, there are a few rebates for installing high-efficiency natural gas water heaters on FortisBC territory – sorry Northwest BC – but it’s running out Clean BC Better Homes grants show that heat pumps and electrification are the way of the future.

Natural gas is methane and 80 times more potent at warming our climate than carbon dioxide. This affects not only the health of the environment, but also yours. Methane emissions in the home can trigger respiratory diseases, according to a new study published in late January. Take that information and add it to the closing paragraph of the January 5 article: “The lack of large industrial customers also means that PNG’s customers from Vanderhoof to the coast pay the highest delivery rates in the province – up to two and a half times what Fortis BC customers do on the lower mainland.

Why would anyone want to stick with natural gas when we could switch?

There is older housing stock in Prince Rupert and many homeowners are looking to retrofit their home in the next year or two. There are grants for you if you want to switch off natural gas. If you need more research and information on why, check out Switch it up BC, a campaign trying to raise awareness about the climate and health risks of residential natural gas.

Change doesn’t come easy, and yet when I look for inspiration, I see what First Nation Haíɫzaqv (Heiltsuk) is doing in their even more remote Central Coast island community. Since 2018, the Haíɫzaqv Nation has switched household fuel stoves and replaced them with energy-efficient air source heat pumps. The project reduces 700 tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually, the equivalent of removing 220 cars per year. Some homeowners save nearly $2,500 a year. As of March last year, 154 households had switched, a third of the households in the municipality.

We’re already seeing the effects of climate change in Prince Rupert and if it’s in our power to reduce our footprint while saving money I think it’s worth a try. While this article was informative on the history of the ebb and flow of our gas prices, I would like to see more articles in it the north view, and other Black Press community newspapers, about the province’s push to switch to natural gas, and how homeowners on the North Shore can benefit from the many retrofit programs available. Writing about heat pumps might not be the sexiest feature, but neither is a 780-word story about natural gas prices. Consider sharing more information about healthy changes instead of the same industry boom-and-bust story about fossil fuels that’s clearly not good for our lungs or the environment.

sincerely,

Shannon Lough

Prince Rupert, BC

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