New Terasen Gas training program teaches at-risk participants critical job
skills, helps REnEW self-confidence

Intensive program aims to remove employment barriers by training new skilled workers in the growing field of energy efficiency and conservation

SURREY, BC, Feb. 24 /CNW/ - Terasen Gas today announced a new program designed to provide at-risk participants in British Columbia with training and teach them essential trade skills in the growing area of energy efficiency retrofits.

The REnEW (Residential Energy and Efficiency Works) program - funded by Terasen Gas, FortisBC, and BC Hydro, and developed with the John Howard Society and Vancouver ACCESS BladeRunners - targets individuals who are overcoming employment barriers because of life challenges such as mental health issues, a history of substance abuse, poverty or homelessness.

"The goal of the REnEW program is simple: support individuals striving to overcome extreme life challenges, while creating a much-needed pool of skilled workers in an exciting and emerging field," said Doug Stout, Vice President of Marketing and Business Development at Terasen Gas. "We've worked with industry experts to design an intensive program to help these individuals master the fundamentals of energy efficiency technologies and installation to help them unlock their career potential."

The first of two, four-week intensive training programs began this week in Kelowna, and will be followed by a Vancouver program in March. In the future, Terasen Gas plans to expand REnEW in communities across the province where there are already existing energy efficiency programs.

"We recognized the need for people skilled in the growing area of energy efficiency retrofits and were pleased to be able to bring our utility partners and the John Howard Society together in the Okanagan," said Michael Mulcahy, FortisBC's Vice President of Customer and Corporate Services.

Terasen Gas created the training modules with input from BC Hydro, the Southern Interior Construction Association and the Aboriginal Community Career Employment Services Society (ACCESS). Graduates from the program will be able to educate customers on energy conservation techniques and be qualified to work with contractors that are employed through existing utility retrofitting programs such as BC Hydro's Energy Conservation Assistance Program.

"Conservation will continue to play a key role in meeting our province's future electricity needs and we are offering our customers numerous programs to advance conservation and energy efficiency," said Lisa Coltart, Executive Director of Power Smart and Customer Care, BC Hydro. "We are pleased to support this program to invest in the training and capacity required to support the conservation efforts of our British Columbians."

Terasen Gas is working with social services providers the John Howard Society in the Okanagan and Vancouver ACCESS BladeRunners in the Lower Mainland to reach out to potential REnEW candidates. Both social services organizations are committed to helping youth-at-risk, aboriginal communities and those who face barriers to long-term employment.

"The John Howard Society is extremely pleased to be involved in such an innovative and collaborative training program that will, quite literally, change the lives of those who participate as well as have significant economic and environmental benefits for the broader community," said Shelley Cook, Executive Director of the John Howard Society of the Central and South Okanagan. "This is an emerging field that we are confident our participants will want to explore."

"We've had an overwhelmingly positive response to the program," said John Webster, CEO and President of ACCESS. "These students may have different challenges, but they are all united by a determination to learn and succeed."

Further background on the REnEW program and application information is available by contacting either the John Howard Society at 250-763-1331 or Vancouver ACCESS BladeRunners at 604-688-9116.

About Terasen Gas

Terasen Gas is mainly composed of the operations of Terasen Gas Inc. and Terasen Gas (Vancouver Island) Inc., both indirect wholly owned subsidiaries of Fortis Inc. Fortis Inc., the largest investor-owned distribution utility in Canada, serves approximately 2,100,000 gas and electric customers and has total assets exceeding $12 billion. Its regulated holdings include Terasen Gas and electric utilities in five Canadian provinces and three Caribbean countries. Fortis Inc. owns non-regulated hydroelectric generation assets across Canada and in Belize and upper New York State. It also owns hotels and commercial real estate in Canada. Fortis Inc. shares are listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange and trade under the symbol FTS. Additional information can be accessed at www.fortisinc.com or www.sedar.com

About FortisBC

FortisBC Inc. is an integrated regulated electric utility based in Kelowna, British Columbia. Focused on the safe delivery of reliable and cost-effective electricity, FortisBC serves approximately 159,000 customers directly and indirectly through wholesale utilities in the southern interior of B.C. FortisBC owns and operates four regulated hydroelectric generating plants and approximately 7,000 kilometres of transmission and distribution power lines. FortisBC employs over 500 people in British Columbia and is an indirect wholly owned subsidiary of Fortis Inc., the largest investor-owned distribution utility in Canada. Fortis Inc. shares are listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange and trade under the symbol FTS. Additional information can be accessed at www.fortisinc.com or www.sedar.com.

About BC Hydro

BC Hydro is a commercial Crown corporation owned by the Province of British Columbia. BC Hydro is one of North America's leading providers of clean, renewable energy, and the largest electric utility in British Columbia, serving approximately 95 per cent of the province's population and 1.8 million customers. We are responsible for reliably generating between 43,000 and 54,000 gigawatt hours (GWh) of electricity. Electricity is delivered to customers through an interconnected system of 18,531 kilometres of transmission lines and 56,780 kilometres of distribution lines.

About the John Howard Society

The John Howard Society of Canada is an organization of provincial and territorial societies comprised of and governed by people whose goal is to understand and respond to social and health related problems with a focus on criminal justice. The John Howard Society of the Central and South Okanagan (JHSCSO) is a registered charity and an incorporated non-profit association that has been serving the Central Okanagan for over 50 years. JHSCSO has a strong community presence and well-established professional working relationships with the criminal justice system and the community.

About BladeRunners

BladeRunners is an award winning, internationally recognized employment program that targets at-risk youth between 19 and 30 years of age. It provides participants with basic skills development and health and safety training designed to help them find and sustain long term employment within various industrial sectors. Vancouver ACCESS BladeRunners focuses mainly upon the construction industry. By providing 24/7 support to participants and developing multi-sector partnerships within the community, the program has withstood the test of time and is now entering its 16th year. The Ministry of Advanced Education and Labour Market Development through the Province of British Columbia is the steward of this program. The Aboriginal Community Career Employment Services Society (ACCESS) serves as the program manager. Additional information can be found on the website at www.bladerunners.info.

SOURCE TERASEN GAS

For further information: For further information: Media contacts: Marcus Wong, Corporate Communications Manager, Terasen Gas, Phone: (778) 571-3263, Email: marcus.wong@terasengas.com; Marnie Douglas, Corporate Communications Specialist, FortisBC Inc., Phone: (250) 469-8120, Email: Marnie.Douglas@fortisbc.com; Simi Heer, Media Relations, BC Hydro, Phone: (604) 623-3963, Cell: (604) 375-2746; Shelley Cook, BA, MA, Executive Director, John Howard Society of the Central and South Okanagan, Phone: (250) 763-1331, Email: Shelley.Cook@jhscso.bc.ca; Tom Galway, Director of BladeRunners, Aboriginal Community Career Employment Services Society (ACCESS), Phone: (604) 913-7933, Email: tom@buildingfuturestoday.com

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