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FortisBC raising natural gas rates

Get ready to begin paying more for natural gas and propane, as FortisBC will be raising rates next month.

The announcement was made late last week under directions from the BC Utilities Commission who have ordered the higher rates due to a depletion of natural gas this winter caused by severe weather conditions in eastern Canada and the United States.

“North America markets have experienced some of the coldest weather in over a decade this past winter, resulting in significant drawdown of natural gas storage inventory levels and upward pressure on commodity prices,” said Cynthia Des Brisay, vice-president of energy supply and resource development.

“The market outlook indicates that natural gas prices may return to lower levels once natural gas inventories are replenished. This could result in a reduction to commodity rates before the winter heating season.”

FortisBC and the BCUC sit down every three months and review commodity rates, ensuring those rates can cover the cost of purchasing the gas and propane on their behalf. Costs can be affected by a wide range of external factors like weather, supply and demand, and are also influenced by the global oil markets.

“Despite this increase, natural gas customers will still be benefitting from a commodity rate that is less than half the rate experienced when the market hit its highs in July 2008,” added Des Brisay.

“Natural gas supply in North America and BC remains healthy, particularly due to advances in technology that have reduced production costs and unlocked the potential of new supply basins. Because of this, the long-term outlook is for natural gas prices to remain below the levels seen only a few years ago.”

FortisBC says residents should expect the following changes:

  • Lower Mainland, Fraser Valley, Interior, north and the Kootenays

Residential customers will see an increase to the commodity rate of $1.368 per gigajoule (GJ). Customer Choice program participants will not be affected by changes to the commodity rate.

  • Whistler

Residential customers will see their natural gas rate increase by $1.368 per GJ.

  • Fort Nelson

Residential customers using approximately 140 GJ of natural gas per year will see an increase of approximately $270, due to an increase to the commodity component of rates.

  • Revelstoke

Residential customers receiving piped propane will see a propane rate increase of $4.290 per GJ.

  • Vancouver Island, Sunshine Coast and Powell River

Rates will remain unchanged from current levels for customers, including residential, on Vancouver Island, the Sunshine Coast and Powell River due to a different rate structure.

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