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If Not Natural Gas, What?

By District Energy posted 02-13-2019 10:05


Eric Rempel, My Steinbach


Last week in this column I bemoaned the fact that we have become utterly, dangerously dependent on natural gas to keep us from freezing in our Canadian winter. That’s bad enough, but the key actors in the management of Canada’s natural gas reserves seem intent on selling and exporting our gas as quickly as possible.

In lamenting our utter dependence on Alberta natural gas, I suggested last week that this dependence was and is avoidable. There have been and are alternatives. This week I want to expand on that thought.

It is, of course, within our nature that we follow the course of least resistance. There is no doubt that natural gas heat is extremely convenient, and with today’s pricing, also extremely economical. Given those two realities no one will apply ingenuity in looking for alternatives unless one applies values other convenience and economy. Today there is significant interest in solar heat, but the main driver of that interest is environmental concern or a concern about vulnerability, not convenience and economy.

The TransCanada Pipeline just south of Ste. Anne was built in 1957, and this is when natural gas became available in Steinbach. Up until then most space heating here was done with coal. Some homes were heated with locally cut wood, and in 1957 heating oil had recently become available. Because of its convenience and economy natural gas caught on quickly. But what if natural gas had not come along? How would Steinbach residents have kept warm?

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