Vancouver receives the entirety of its electricity and natural gas from regulated utilities. BC Hydro, which has been British Columbia’s largest generator and distributor of electricity for many decades, meets the city’s electricity needs. FortisBC is the sole regulated distributor of natural gas in Vancouver.
While the province of British Columbia does not permit retailers to sell electricity, there are a number of authorized natural gas retailers which serve Vancouver and the surrounding area. These commercial providers include:
- Access Gas Services
- Bluestream Energy
- Direct Energy
- Just Energy
- Planet Energy
- Summitt Energy
While FortisBC has long been a reliable supplier of reasonably priced natural gas services, many homeowners and businesses have overlooked the lower natural gas rates often offered by these competitive retailers. Click the links to learn more about the Vancouver’s natural gas retailers, and the plans they offer to residential and business customers, which typically include fixed rate, variable rate, and fixed cost monthly plans.
To see what rates are currently available in your area, fill out our energy rate comparison form above.
Vancouver Electricity and Natural Gas History
While a number of European explorers ventured into what is now Vancouver as far back as the 16th century, long-term settlement did not occur until the early 1860s. Sawmills were built as early as 1863 after loggers discovered the region’s vast forests. By the time of Vancouver’s incorporation as a city and simultaneous arrival of the first transcontinental train line in 1886, the need for energy could no longer be ignored.
In April 1886, a charter was granted to the Vancouver Electric Illuminating Company, days after the city’s incorporation—only for the entire city to burn to the ground two months later. After a year of rebuilding, a new company with the same name was granted a charter to install and power a street-lighting system, which came online in August of 1887. While much of the city’s energy would be sourced from a thermal electric plant at Prior and Main Streets, natural gas-powered lighting was also installed in 1887.
The city’s use of electricity was not limited to public lighting for long. In February 1888, the Vancouver News-Advertiser announced that it was “the first paper in the Dominion to be printed [using electric power].”
Unfortunately, Vancouver’s rapid growth and modernization were undermined by a Canada-wide depression in the early 1890s. By that time, the Vancouver Electric Railway and Light Company had been founded, but found itself failing under the strain of over-development, coupled with a significant slowdown in the city’s population growth. The company offered to sell its assets to the city, which refused. Subsequently, these assets and other infrastructure were brought up by the Consolidated Railway and Light Company. However, this company—soon after acquiring a railway in Victoria—in turn failed after a disastrous bridge collapse involving a streetcar.
Despite this seemingly endless run of bad luck, Vancouver’s march into the modern age regained its footing with the founding of B.C. Electric in 1897. With markets in Vancouver and Victoria, the company generated and sold electricity and natural gas, which it also used to operate rail transit systems.
In 1903, Lake Bunzen #1 Generating Station came online, supplying hydro power to the city’s lighting and transportation infrastructure for the first time. With the production capacity of the new hydroelectric plants far outstripping that of the earlier generation stations, demand for power exploded, and the plant’s production capacity more than doubled within a few years. This plant continued to supply power to Vancouver until it was modernized in 1951.
The revamped hydro plant remains in operation today, and is something of a tourist attraction, its gothic architecture utilized in a number of horror films in recent decades. However, in the wake of a century’s worth of electric infrastructure development in Vancouver and the rest of British Columbia, its 60 MW production capacity accounts for less than half of 1% of B.C. Hydro’s total energy production.