Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson speaks at a conference in the Casina Pio IV at the Vatican, Wednesday, July 22, 2015.(Photo: AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)There are only two energy alternatives that could realistically replace natural gas -- a district energy system run by the city, or electricity. Both are roughly the same price. Even with the news that FortisBC is hiking its natural gas price by $82 per year for the average residential customer, natural gas is still far cheaper than these alternatives.Based on BC Hydro and FortisBC rates and average energy usage, a single-family home could see a $1,400 per year rise in energy bills if it moved from natural gas to electricity -- and that's on top of the up-front cost (likely thousands of dollars more) to convert or replace water heaters and furnaces.It gets worse. In commercial, institutional and industrial buildings, 37 per cent of energy comes from natural gas. That means higher prices for customers, who will have to pay more to help business and restaurant owners foot the bill for the conversion and higher ongoing energy costs.Hospitals are huge users of natural gas, not just to heat their buildings, but to sterilize equipment. A mid-sized hospital saves as much as $600,000 per year by using natural gas. Force them to use electricity, and more tax dollars will be needed to fund them.
More than a hundred schools use natural gas in Vancouver. The Vancouver School Board could need another $3.6 million per year for higher electricity costs.Vision Vancouver is coming after vehicles, too. TransLink has been buying natural gas-powered buses for a few years, but Robertson's plan may soon force them to buy fuel-cell buses -- at more than twice the price. You can bet TransLink will be asking taxpayers for more money to cover it.Robertson and his green gang know all this -- and they don't care. "The discovery in North America of large quantities of shale gas has now caused the price to crash, and this low cost is expected for years to come. What is not included in this price are the health and environmental damages caused by climate impacts from burning large amounts of natural gas," their Strategy says.That will come as a surprise to taxpayers who have been shelling out for carbon tax on their natural gas bills for nearly a decade. And all this money will be spent by Vancouver residents to address less than 2.5 of the 732 megatonnes of greenhouse gas emissions released in Canada annually -- one-third of one per cent (and Canada's emissions are only 1.6 per cent of world emissions). Vancouver taxpayers should demand City Hall scrap the plan to outlaw natural gas. And if Robertson refuses, the provincial government should step in and remind Vision of the need to cut the cost burden on Vancouver residents. Otherwise, the greenest thing about Gregor Robertson's Vancouver will continue to be the stacks of money needed to live there.
Robertson and his green gang know all this - and they don't care.
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