What a year it’s been so far!
On Jan. 1, Union Gas kicked off 2011 with the launch of this Centennial website, which documents our 100-year history of delivering safe, affordable and reliable natural gas to more than 400 communities across the province.
A few days later, on Jan. 6, celebrations kicked into high gear with simultaneous employee celebrations at our Chatham head office and many of our seven district offices across the province. President Julie Dill was on hand to enjoy the party in Chatham with employees past and present.
As January turned to February – and much of southwestern Ontario braced for what would turn out to be one of the year’s first major snowstorms – we added the first decade of a historical timeline and a virtual museum to our website, giving visitors the chance to get an inside look at Union Gas through the ages, without having to leave the comfort of home!
We bid farewell to February with an announcement guaranteed to take the chill off the blustery month: As part of our Centennial celebration, we would be giving 100 special grants of $1,000 to non-profit community organizations across the province that focused on the environment, community safety, and education. The applications began rolling in.
Others were celebrating our 100th anniversary too. On the evening of March 24, friends, employees, retirees and dignitaries gathered at the Chatham-Kent Museum to officially open a new exhibit honouring our Centennial. Dill was on hand to give the museum a special thank you for pulling together this retrospective. And our Union Gas librarian and in-house historian Jane Parry made an appearance as well!
Parry has been an instrumental part of our Centennial planning committee, even helping to locate, dust off and display antique gas stoves and other memorabilia in our Chatham headquarters and district offices as a visible reminder of the long history of natural gas in Ontario.
Over the course of our Centennial year, Parry and other employees have given several special tours of the memorabilia at our Chatham head office for our retirees and other members of the public. A group from St. Andrew’s United Church, The Golden Genies retirees and Take Our Kids to Work students were among those shown around the building by employee volunteer "tour guides".
In spring, our thoughts turned in earnest to what special ways we could give back to the communities that have helped us create a century of success.
In April, we held a Centennial Earth Week Challenge across the company, where employees did everything from organizing a clothing and household good donation in our London/Sarnia district, to creating an Earth Day themed mural in our Brantford office.
And on May 1, we kicked off a very special Centennial challenge.
Every year, our employees and retirees roll up their sleeves and donate thousands of hours to complete projects for community organizations across the province through a special employee volunteer program we call Helping Hands in Action.
Volunteers do everything from planting trees, installing safety coat hooks in classrooms, painting and refurbishing office areas and more. And employees can receive project funding through our Community Improvement Grant program.
This May, the goal was special: To complete 100 projects in 100 days. And Union Gas volunteers set to the task with the strong community spirit for which they are justly known.
To cap off a spring of giving, we chose the recipients of our 100 Centennial Community grants, which included community and non-profit groups from Kingston to Thunder Bay to Windsor.
June came like a flash, bringing with it warmer weather and the news – announced at a Centennial celebration at our London district office – that the first of 10 Signature Centennial grants of $10,000 was being awarded to the Trees Ontario Foundation to help plant 3,333 trees in the London and Sarnia areas.
And one day before the first official day of summer – June 20 – we made a major Centennial announcement: A $100,000 Signature Grant to the Lower Thames Valley Conservation Authority to fund new biodiversity education, conservation and restoration programs and an expanded community trees initiative.
The conservation authority serves 10 member municipalities, including West Elgin, Southwold and Chatham-Kent, which has been home base for Union Gas for almost all of the past century.
Bill Esrey, chairman of our parent company Spectra Energy’s board of directors, presented the grant to conservation authority chair Brian King at a Centennial reception at the Chatham Armoury Banquet Conference Centre.
Other members of the Spectra Energy board and Greg Ebel, Spectra Energy's president and CEO, joined Esrey, Dill, Union Gas employees, retirees, government officials, community leaders and other community partners at the reception as well.
We rounded out June with two more Centennial celebrations at our district offices in Thunder Bay and Waterloo – and two more Signature grants to support a green roof program and an environmental education program.
And just to add a little extra fun to the mix – we marked Blue and White Day in all our offices across the province in June, as well as hosting a special Centennial barbeque for our more than 800 Chatham employees at our head office on Keil Drive.
Summer was in full bloom in late July, when our district office in Burlington held its Centennial celebration. A highlight of that event was the presentation of a Signature grant to Royal Botanical Gardens, recognized as a leader in sustainable gardening, ecological restoration and plant preservation.
In the first week of August, we celebrated the great news that not only had we met the Helping Hands in Action challenge we had set for ourselves, we surpassed it, completing 111 projects in 100 days. Our year-to-date total has since hit 158.
In late August, we marked "back to school" with a Signature grant to the Essex Region Conservation Foundation to support its Nature in Education program, a hands-on study course that helps students learn about habitats, water and wildlife using environmental science-based studies. The announcement was made at the Centennial celebration at our Windsor office, where employees also had some fun dressing up to represent different decades.
And we continued to hit the books in September.
Hot off the presses came our own Union Gas – 100 Years of Energy, a commemorative Centennial book that all employees, retirees and contractors at Union Gas received as a special keepsake.
While our Centennial book looked back into our past, our next Signature grant looked forward to the future.
In late September, we awarded a $10,000 grant to the University of Waterloo's Institute for Sustainable Energy for a research project to expand the concept of a "smart grid" beyond electricity.
We welcomed a number of our Centennial Community grant recipients to the celebration at our district office in North Bay on Sept. 23.
And we rounded out the month as we started it, by celebrating two Signature grants with decidedly educational bents.
At the Walpole Island Fall Fair, Union Gas was recognized for our grant to the Bkejwanong Eco-Keepers (BEK) program, which gives First Nations students the chance to work with environmental researchers in their own community on the island on the north shore of Lake St. Clair.
And under the watchful eyes of a Grade 3/4 class at Dawn-Euphemia School, Dill and Dave Simpson, director of storage and transmission operations for Union Gas, presented a $10,000 grant to the St. Clair Region Conservation Authority for its 2012 Spring Water Awareness Program, which will teach elementary school students about the dangers of the spring thaw.
We began October with the exciting news we had been named to the top of the class, making the list of Canada’s Top 100 Employers for the second year running – the perfect icing on our Centennial cake.
And we turned back to nature once again, with Centennials grants to support a 100,000 Tree Campaign in the Sudbury area, a new forest trail in Timmins and two water conservation programs in eastern Ontario.
On Oct. 29, Union Gas employees and their families brought their garden gloves, shovels and their community spirit to a Centennial tree planting event in partnership with our $100,000 grant recipient, the Lower Thames Conservation Authority.
Under a bright autumn sky, volunteers helped to plant 100 coniferous trees that will form a windbreak for future plantings at the Merlin Conservation Area in Chatham-Kent, once again demonstrating an outstanding commitment to give back to the communities we serve.
As November draws to a close, we’re looking to our official birthdate – Dec. 19 – with bittersweet excitement. It’s been a busy year, full of company and community spirit. Check in again to see just how we celebrated our big day, and what’s in store for our next 100 years!
In the wake of another energy crisis this year due mainly to worries over Libya’s oil production during the Arab Spring revolts, there’s a renewed focus on safe, affordable and reliable energy as one of the foundations for economic stability around the world.
A cold snap in Quebec leads to record demand for electricity from Hydro Quebec. After nearly four decades of controversy, the federal cabinet is expected to approve the Mackenzie Pipeline after the National Energy Board granted approval at the end of 2010. There are more than 250 conditions attached to the approval including no federal subsidies for the $16.2 Bbillion project. At end of the month the National Energy Board approves the $307 million Horn River Project, which will transport sweet natural gas from the Horn River Basin in northeast British Columbia to NGTL's Alberta System and provide customers direct access to the NOVA Inventory Transfer (NIT) market.
The Arab Spring revolts raise concerns over Libya's oil output and crude oil prices rise by 20 per cent in a two-week period setting off the 2011 energy crisis. On February 19th an explosion ruptures the Trans-Canada Pipeline in Beardmore, Ontario, forcing the temporary evacuation of the community.
International expertise is announced to guide commercial scale deployment of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) projects in Alberta in line with new legislative guidelines passed at the end of 2010. Following approval from the federal cabinet the National Energy Board issues a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity for the 1,196-kilometre long Mackenzie Valley Pipeline, part of the Mackenzie Gas Project.
Alberta implements a Renewable Fuels Standard requiring an annual average of two per cent renewable diesel in diesel fuel and five per cent renewable alcohol in gasoline sold in Alberta.
The National Energy Board releases its summer outlook and warns Canadian consumers to expect higher energy prices over the summer particularly for oil and electricity. It also predicts stable natural gas production levels for 2011, citing a record number of horizontal wells drilled recently in North America’s major shale gas formations.
Greengate Power receives approval for the construction of its 300 MW Blackspring Ridge 1 project in Vulcun County, Alberta, which will be the largest wind farm in Canada. Construction of the wind farm is targeted for 2012, and it is expected to be in service in 2013.
Canada's Energy and Mines Ministers' meet in Kananaskis, Alberta and discuss a national energy strategy and decide that a national action plan will be reviewed at the 2012 conference in Prince Edward Island.
Ontario announces a number of initiatives to encourage clean energy by making it easier for energy developers and manufacturers to do business in the province. More than 20,000 clean energy jobs have already been created in Ontario, and the province is aiming to create 50,000 clean energy jobs by 2012.
Nova Scotia announces that they are developing a strategy on marine renewable energy, with a focus on tidal power and offshore wind. A report from Geological Survey of Canada forecasts that geothermal energy resource is a potential upcoming source of renewable, sustainable energy in Canada. According to a report by the Geological Survey of Canada, current geothermal energy resources are estimated to exceed one million times Canada's current electrical consumption, although current technology allows only a portion of this energy to be produced.
The National Energy Board approves an application by KM LNG Operating General Partnership (KM LNG) for a licence to export liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Kitimat, British Columbia to markets in the Asia Pacific region.
The licence authorizes KM LNG to export 200 million tonnes of LNG over a 20-year period.
US President Obama announces a delay of the Keystone Pipeline project until 2013 to review possible routes. The pipeline is intended to bring crude oil from Alberta to important US markets.
Union Gas, a division of Spectra Energy, marks its 100th anniversary on December 19th capping a year of Centennial celebrations.