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Natural gas delivery coming to communities on north shore of Lake Superior

Municipality-owned utility signs deal with Certarus for compressed natural gas delivery
(Certarus photo)

A collection of five municipalities on Lake Superior's north shore have inked a deal with a compressed natural gas (CNG) distributor to bring a new source of energy to an estimated 13,000 customers by next year.

Lakeshore Natural Gas has signed a letter of intent for a long-term gas supply agreement with Certarus for the proposed North Shore Gas Project. The agreement contracts Certarus for the transportation, storage and supply of compressed natural gas (CNG) for the five communities.

Lakeshore is a homegrown utility distribution company comprised of the municipalities of Marathon, Terrace Bay, Schreiber, Manitouwadge and Wawa.

Calgary-headquartered Certarus is regarded as a North American leader in providing compressed natural gas (CNG), renewable natural gas (RNG) and hydrogen. The company has regional hubs in Northern Ontario near Timmins and Red Rock from where they supply industrial customers, like mining companies.

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The proposed $55-million North Shore Gas Project involves the handling, compression, delivery by truck, storage and decompression of CNG by Certarus from the company’s plant in Red Rock to delivery points in each municipality.

If the project is successful in receiving all of the necessary Ontario regulatory approvals in 2021, the full roll-out of the project is proposed to take place over three years (2022 to 2024).

Once the regulatory approvals and permits are in place, local distribution works will be constructed and operated in each of the five municipalities to deliver natural gas to customers.

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This project has been five years in the design and development. During that time, the municipalities have lobbied successive provincial governments for access to natural gas services, something not currently available on the north shore, to support economic development and relieve residents, business and industry of the high cost of heating and energy costs.

The area's terrain is considered too rugged and too expensive to construct a natural gas pipeline.

Daryl Skworchinski, CAO of the Town of Marathon and president of Lakeshore Natural Gas, said the North Shore Gas Project is shovel-ready. They'll be seeking final regulatory and financial approvals in the coming months.

“There has never been a better time to invest in clean and efficient energy sources for the north. People are struggling to heat their homes, schools and businesses, and mobile natural gas delivery is the only solution that makes economic and environmental sense," he said in a statement.

"In 2020, Lakeshore Natural Gas issued a competitive gas supply procurement process and as a result, selected Certarus and CNG as the preferred options for this project. Our municipalities are confident that we have found a trusted and well-established gas supply partner in Certarus, and that today’s announcement brings us one step closer to delivering this critical energy project for underserviced communities in the north."

"While the remote location of these municipalities may have made energy security an issue in the past, we are pleased to help them transition to a clean energy future with a safe and secure supply of CNG to fuel their homes and businesses," said Certarus president-CEO Curtis Philippon.

"Together with Lakeshore Natural Gas, we look forward to demonstrating a clear pathway to deliver clean and cost-effective energy to rural communities in Northern Ontario."