Increasing the efficiency of our operations is an ongoing priority for Spectra Energy. Reducing the energy we use during our operations and minimizing the amount of gas lost from our pipelines lowers emissions, decreases our costs and conserves natural gas.
Our U.S. Transmission business participates in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Natural Gas STAR Program which is focused on technologies and practices that improve operational efficiency and reduce methane emissions. We have reduced methane emissions by over 9.7 billion cubic feet since 2007 by implementing more efficient practices. This translates to approximately $56 million of our customers’ natural gas that has been conserved. Two examples include using an alternative method for testing our emergency shutdown systems without creating a significant gas release and taking steps such as using a portable compressor to reduce the amount of gas that would otherwise be released when performing pipeline maintenance.
One potential opportunity for increasing energy efficiently is capturing and putting to use “waste heat” from the exhaust of combustion equipment. In British Columbia, we partnered with Enpower Corp. to create two waste heat recovery projects at our Savona and 150 Mile house compressor stations. Waste heat from our compressor drives enable generators to produce enough clean electricity to power more than 10,000 homes and offset approximately 25,000 metric tons of GHG emissions each year.
At our McMahon Gas Plant in British Columbia, we use waste heat to produce steam to generate power and process gas. In addition, the gas plant recovers energy from the flow of discharge water to power water pumps, avoiding the need to install additional pumps, saving approximately $173,110 per year in purchased energy costs.
To help drive energy efficiency, our Union Gas business has had an internal Resource Conservation Plan since 2007 which includes setting annual energy conservation targets. Union Gas employs a balanced energy conservation strategy across more than 65 facilities. A combination of modern tools, preventative maintenance and performance monitoring are utilized to drive efficiency in day-to-day operations. Union Gas is also renewing building systems and overall facilities with modern, energy efficient solutions, each of which contributes to our reduced energy footprint.
Union Gas has three facilities that incorporate some of the latest environmental technologies available today and all have achieved LEED® Gold certification - an internationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high-performance green buildings. A fourth LEED standard regional building is planned for Hamilton, Ontario in 2014, to replace the existing office which was constructed in 1958.
Union Gas also is working to develop market opportunities for renewable natural gas. The company is currently accepting biomethane, comprised of cleaned and filtered biogas, for injection into the natural gas distribution grid. The city of Hamilton, Ontario, is currently injecting this processed gas into the Union Gas distribution grid to move it to other city owned facilities and conserve its use of conventional natural gas.