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    Canadian natural gas utility freezes consumer rates

Summary

British Columbia natural gas and electricity utility said rates will remain static until June 30.

by: Daniel Graeber

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Canadian natural gas utility freezes consumer rates

A natural gas utility in the Canadian province of British Columbia said March 17 it would freeze its rates for customers until the beginning of July.

FortisBC Energy said it received approval from the provincial utilities commission to keep gas rates where they are until June 30.

“We understand that energy costs are an important decision in household budgets,” Diane Roy, vice president of regulatory affairs with FortisBC, said. “When it comes to the cost of natural gas, we don’t make a profit on it. Our customers pay exactly what we pay.”

FortisBC reviews gas rates with the British Columbia Utilities Commission every three months to ensure rates passed down to consumers cover the cost of natural gas purchased on their behalf.

A so-called polar vortex weather pattern descended on North America in mid-February, bringing arctic cold to large swathes of the region. The subsequent surge in natural gas demand and the impact on production pushed natural gas prices briefly into double-digit territory.

The rate decision followed a March 12 announcement from the provincial government on improved energy efficiency measures that could provide relief to consumers.

“By moving forward with new energy efficiency standards, homes and workplaces throughout the province will benefit from lower energy bills, helping to build a stronger, better British Columbia,” Bruce Ralson, the provinces minister of energy, mines and low carbon innovation, said.

FortisBC supplies natural gas and electricity to an estimated 1.2mn customers in the province.