In an effort to avoid another explosion like the one at Regina Beach in December 2014, SaskEnergy is taking a big step that will affect hundreds of property owners in the Last Mountain Lake area.
On Tuesday, it announced that due to “continued high levels of ground movement” natural gas service would be permanently removed in six Last Mountain Lake communities.
Roughly 250 property owners, or about 16 per cent of SaskEnergy’s customer base in the area, will be affected. Eighty per cent of property owners there will not be affected.
“It may not even be the case that many customers are seeing ground movements at their home or at their property,” said Dave Burdeniuk, director of government and media relations with SaskEnergy. “Things may be happening underground that residents aren’t seeing yet but our gas lines are being significantly damaged in the areas where we’ve targeted that we have to remove service”
According to SaskEnergy, underground leaks on its system in the impacted zones have been repaired at rates up to 100 times the provincial average.
“We understand this will be difficult for these customers but their safety and that of the communities we serve must come first,” said Ken From, president and CEO of SaskEnergy, in a news release Tuesday. “Significant ground shifting is continuing in isolated zones within these communities, and despite extensive infrastructure upgrades, SaskEnergy can no longer safely serve customers in those zones.”
The number of affected homes are:
- Regina Beach – 76
- Buena Vista – 62
- Saskatchewan Beach – 87
- Shore Acres – 6
- Sundale – 4
- Craven – 12
Affected residents in those areas will be notified directly by SaskEnergy.
They have until Sept. 5, 2017, to transition their home’s natural gas appliances to another fuel source. But Burdeniuk said that could happen sooner if things deteriorate even further.
“If conditions change and any of the movement accelerates, we may have to cut off service before Sept. 5 and that could be something like a very significant and sudden rainfall,” he explained. “If we do see anything like that happening before Sept. 5, we will have to remove service probably with little to no notice.”
Burdeniuk went on to explain that SaskEnergy will continue to monitor the area, including using a satellite every 24 days to measure 8,000 points in the valley.
“Our geotechnical data indicates minimal ground movement elsewhere in these communities and the rest of Last Mountain Lake. We will continue to monitor slope movement throughout the region to ensure we can provide safe and reliable service to our customers,” From said.
SaskEnergy said a fuel transition allowance will be provided to affected property owners to assist them in transitioning appliances to alternate fuel sources.
“For some people, it will be a surprise. For others, they do notice movement in certain areas,” Burdeniuk said.
Burdeniuk said people can get more information from their town offices. SaskEnergy will also be hosting two open houses, one in Regina on June 15 and one in Regina Beach on June 17.
980 CJME contacted residents and businesses in Regina Beach for comment.
No one was willing to go on the record at this time due to the uncertainty surrounding who will be affected by the change.