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Terasen purchase will not affect pipeline plans

Application for natural gas pipeline sits with B.C. Utilities Commission

The $6.9 billion Cdn proposed purchase of Terasen Gas by Texas-based Kinder Morgan will not impact the ongoing delivery of propane to Whistler, plans to partner with the resort, or an application to extend the natural gas pipeline from Squamish to Whistler.

According to Cam Avery, investor relations spokesperson for Terasen, "This deal will not affect our current service, our relationship to the community, or our plans to bring natural gas to Whistler. We are still excited about that project."

Terasen’s pipeline application, made with the approval of the Resort Municipality of Whistler, was sent to the B.C. Utilities Commission in the fall of 2004. A decision was expected within the year, but could be delayed by changes to the original submission.

"We’re working more closely with Whistler on this project, which changed the original application to B.C. Utilities… (which) probably set the timetable back slightly," said Avery. "Overall, we’re looking to continue building our relationship with the community of Whistler for many years to come."

In April the RMOW and Terasen signed a Memorandum of Understanding to create a public-private partnership. The goal of the partnership is to provide Whistler with a comprehensive and sustainable energy system, maximizing the use of alternative energy and fuels while cutting reliance on fossil fuels. The partnership could result in the creation of a new community energy utility.

The proposed pipeline will cost approximately $31.8 million, and could be even cheaper if the construction project occurs in partnership with a telecommunications company looking to extend fibre optic cables along the same line.

Terasen’s current customers will switch to natural gas, immediately reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 15 per cent. At the same time the municipality will develop a district heating system, with the support of Terasen.

Kinder Morgan and Terasen announced the purchase of the utility company on Monday. Kinder Morgan’s primary interest is Terasen’s pipeline holdings in northern Alberta, where the oilsands are located, and the potential for creating more pipelines from the area. Terasen’s profitable natural gas distribution company was also a factor in the purchase.

The deal, which needs shareholder approval, is expected to close by the end of the year.

- With files from Alison Taylor