Out of the pipe and onto the highway.

Author:Ross, Ian

North Shore communities ready to submit liquefied natural gas plan

There's nothing like having choices.

If all goes according to plan, homeowners and businesses in five towns

along Lake Superior's North Shore should realize some major savings on their energy bills in the coming years.

The communities of Terrace Bay, Schreiber, Manitouwadge, Wawa and Marathon have banded together with Toronto-based Northeast Midstream in preparation to tap into a provincial energy program to finance a liquefied natural gas (LNG) delivery network.

"We're ready to submit the first day it's open," said Marathon CAO Daryl Skworchinski, who expects the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) to begin taking applications for the Natural Gas Access Loan Program sometime early in 2017.

The rising costs of propane, fuel oil and grid electricity for heating has forced the communities to look into LNG.

The rugged terrain along Superior's North Shore makes it too costly to extend the natural gas pipeline east from Nipigon.

So instead, they've been hatching a plan with Northeast Midstream to chill and convert into a liquid state, then truck it down the Trans-Canada Highway to proposed distribution points in each community where it will be converted back into a gas and piped into local homes and businesses.

From a logistics perspective, Skworchinski said: "It's a pretty slick solution."

The numbers in a feasibility study completed last summer looked so favourable that they've progressed to more detailed business and financial stage in the last few months.

Their research indicates LNG will collectively save the communities $247 million over 40 years, and cut greenhouse gas emissions by 17,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually, akin to pulling 3,600 cars off the road.

Telephone surveys with residential, commercial and institutional customers last April and May indicated between 57 and 84 per cent would make the switch to natural gas if it were made available.

Pulp maker AV Terrace Bay has signalled their support, but convincing the area's other industrial players to come aboard remains a work in progress, Skworchinski said.

Financing the LNG project will be a combination of provincial money and debt servicing from Northeast Midstream.

"We think this is a solution that more than one part of the province will look at, assuming we get the approval to go ahead and get the financing and the construction approval," said Skworchinski.

The $200-million provincial program provides loans to communities, who partner...

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