Mild weather, surplus freezes natural gas prices on Island
A mild winter, growing supply of natural gas and reduced demand has frozen natural gas rates for most Vancouver Island customers.
The B.C. Utilities Commission confirmed earlier this week that most of FortisBC's natural gas customers will see either a rate freeze or decrease starting April 1.
Midstream and delivery rates for customers are not affected by the decision.
"The rates approved [Monday] are allowing our customers to continue to benefit from some of the lowest delivered natural gas prices in more than a decade," said Cynthia Des Brisay, vice-president of energy supply and resource development for FortisBC, in a press release.
Because Vancouver Island natural gas customers are under a separate contract with FortisBC, a separate application is being considered by the utilities commission, though FortisBC received interim approval to hold rates at 2011 levels for most customers.
Th company recently filed an application with the B.C. Utilities Commission to introduce common natural rates and program offerings across the province, which will be made possible by combining the province's three natural gas utilities into one. The application is at the regulatory stage and if approved, customers wold pay the same rate for natural gas regardless of where they live.
Most other areas in B.C. saw a rate decrease. The Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley saw a decrease of $1.028 per gigajoule, resulting in an average savings of $93 annually, while the Kootenays saw a rate decrease of $2.12 per gigajoule, resulting in an average savings of $108 annually, or an 8.4 per cent decrease.
Every three months, FortisBC reviews natural gas and propane commodity rates with the BCUC to make sure rates passed on to customers cover the cost purchasing the gas on their behalf. Factors affecting natural gas prices include weather, supply and demand, and economic conditions.
To view natural gas prices over the last few years, visit www.fortisbc.com/costofgas.