FortisBC is a Canadian-owned, British Columbia-based energy company that serves more than 1.1 million customers in more than 135 communities. They deliver natural gas, electricity and propane and provide innovative energy solutions such as liquefied natural gas (LNG) for transportation and carbon-neutral Renewable Natural Gas. FortisBC develops progressive energy solutions and has a record of success in today’s ever-evolving energy environment.
Facing a rapidly evolving energy and emissions landscape, FortisBC was conducting a detailed study to determine what energy resources they must acquire over the next 20 years under a range of possible business environments. Specifically, questions to be answered included:
- What are the details of the underlying assumptions that were used to create each of these business scenarios?
- What is the range of short-term forecast results that are consistent with these scenarios?
- What is the range of system capacity requirements that are consistent with these scenarios? Is this consistent with the infrastructure being planned?
- What is the range of revenue streams that may occur under these different scenarios?
- Will the company be financially healthy under this range of business environments?
- What will happen to DSM program results under these various business scenarios? Is the DSM plan robust?
FortisBC’s Integrated Resource Planning department took the lead for the analysis. Also actively participating in the study were the company’s manager of Load Forecasting and manager of System Capacity Planning. It was anticipated that Demand-Side Management (DSM) staff and the revenue planning primes would also derive value from the study output.
Using a custom built Posterity Group Navigator™ model, 3 core simulations were tested. Posterity Group analysts then developed 2 alternate scenarios and over 20 exploratory scenarios variations. This flexibility, inherent to Posterity Group Navigator™, allowed FortisBC to fully explore future risks and opportunities under a wide range of potential business operating conditions.
The complexity of the simulations was daunting. To ensure the precision and realism of the model, planners were able to integrate data from a wide variety of sources including:
- Load forecasting data:
- customer numbers and customer consumption by region, municipality, rate class, and NAICS code (building's industry or functional category)
- forecast of growth in customer numbers by rate class
- Commercial and residential energy end use survey data
- DSM potential study data:
- including detailed measure assumptions and estimated savings potential
- System capacity data:
- detailed estimates of peak demand and annual consumption at the full level of granularity
- Industry data:
- Research and forecasts of the natural gas transportation market
- Information on codes and standards planned in BC
- Information on provincial and municipal climate change mitigation strategies
Taking full advantage of Posterity Group Navigator™’s powerful simulation engine, planners assessed the impact of changes in variables such as:
- Growth in number of accounts by region, sector, and rate class
- Forecast prices of natural gas commodity relative to other fuel options
- Forecast carbon pricing
- Price response of various groups of customers to fuel price change, in terms of changing fuel choice in equipment replacement or new purchase
- Varying codes and standards at different levels of stringency and amount of provincial/regional/municipal adoption
- Varying penetration of renewable natural gas into the gas grid
- Varying rates of conversion of heavy vehicles and shipping to CNG or LNG
In addition to three core simulations that characterized various combinations of local and global growth, evolution of fuel mix, adoption of green technologies and global economic performance, additional scenarios were explored that varied key parameters from the lowest to the highest bound. The result was a comprehensive view of the range of potential future outcomes and a deeper understanding of forecast sensitivities upon which important planning decisions could be made.
Many of the important charts and tables used in the utility's recently filed Long Term Gas Resource Plan, were produced using Posterity Group Navigator™. As FortisBC responds to regulatory Information Requests (IRs) arising from the filing, the model will enable planners to more effectively communicate with both internal and external stakeholders.
Output from the simulations were planned to be used in the company’s filing of their System Capacity Plan. Similarly, it is anticipated that FortisBC’s DSM Program Plan will also lever the Posterity Group Navigator™ model to ensure consistency with the other plans filed. In all cases, the ability to perform numerous, realistic simulations based on high-resolution input data has strengthened the utilities confidence in their planning within an increasingly complex and volatile environment.
In fact, FortisBC has integrated the Posterity Group Navigator™ model into its ongoing Integrated Resource Planning process as well as its Load Forecasting system. System Capacity Planning is also using output from the model to further enhance FortisBC’s already sophisticated systems.