Increased supply of natural gas and stable delivery rates continue to benefit customers
SURREY, BC, Dec. 2, 2013 /CNW/ - FortisBC has received approval from the BC Utilities Commission (BCUC) to modify natural gas and propane rates. Beginning January 1, 2014 customers will see varying changes to their bill depending on where they live.
"Recent advances in production technology have resulted in significant increases in North American natural gas supply, which has kept the overall trend for commodity rates positive," said Cynthia Des Brisay, vice president, energy supply and resource development at FortisBC. "Energy bills for the average customer in the Lower Mainland have dropped by 25 per cent compared to five years ago, due to a lower cost of gas."
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 of purchasing the gas on their behalf. Factors affecting the market price of natural gas and propane in North America include weather, supply and demand and economic conditions. Propane prices are also influenced by global oil markets.
Also, in this announcement the BCUC has set FortisBC's delivery and midstream rates, which are generally set once a year. The delivery portion of rates is what FortisBC charges to deliver natural gas and propane service to customers. It enables the company to recover its costs and make investments in its business that will benefit the evolving needs of customers and communities served. Midstream rates include charges FortisBC pays to other companies to store and transport natural gas.
"FortisBC continues to strive to balance customer rate impacts and ensure our continued ability to provide safe and reliable natural gas service to our customers," said Des Brisay.
Below are the specific changes for each region, effective January 1, 2014. The rate structures in the various regions can contribute to differences in commodity and midstream rates.
Lower Mainland, Fraser Valley, Interior, North and the Kootenays
- Residential customers will see no change to the commodity rate and an increase to the midstream rate of between $0.040 and $0.111 per gigajoule (GJ) depending on their region. As part of the 2014 - 2018 delivery rate proposal filed earlier this year, FortisBC received approval to increase its delivery rate on an interim basis by $0.224 per GJ for customers in these regions. The combined rate change means an increase of $0.335 per GJ, or approximately $32 per year for an average residential customer in the Lower Mainland using approximately 95 GJ.
- Customer Choice program participants can also expect to see the above changes to the delivery and midstream rates on their bills.
- Residential customers will see their commodity rate, which includes the midstream rate, increase by $0.179 per GJ. As part of the 2014 rate application filed earlier this year, the delivery rate for Whistler customers will increase by $0.335 per GJ. The average residential customer using 90 GJ per year will see an increase of approximately $46 per year.
- Residential customers using approximately 140 GJ of natural gas per year will see a decrease of approximately $108 or 12 per cent.
- Cold weather has caused an increase in propane demand and as a result, raised the price of propane. Residential customers receiving piped propane will see their commodity rate increase by $1.321 per GJ. This change in commodity rate, in addition to the approved delivery rate changes, results in an increase of approximately $77 for the average residential customer using approximately 50 GJ of propane per year.
Vancouver Island, Sunshine Coast and Powell River
- As part of the 2014 revenue requirements application, FortisBC received approval from the BCUC to leave rates unchanged on an interim basis.
Rates and rate structures vary across our service areas. However, we have applied to the BCUC to move to one common rate structure across the province. For more information about FortisBC and rates, visit www.fortisbc.com/rates. FortisBC is committed to helping customers conserve energy and get the most out of their energy dollar by providing both financial incentives and advice on energy efficient technologies and practices. Those curious about how their energy use may be affecting their natural gas bill can use the FortisBC energy calculator at fortisbc.com/energycalculator.
FortisBC is a regulated utility focused on providing safe and reliable energy, including natural gas, electricity, propane and thermal energy solutions. FortisBC employs more than 2,200 British Columbians and serves approximately 1.1 million customers in more than 135 B.C. communities. FortisBC is indirectly wholly owned by Fortis Inc., the largest investor-owned distribution utility in Canada. FortisBC owns and operates four regulated hydroelectric generating plants, approximately 7,000 kilometres of transmission and distribution power lines and approximately 47,000 kilometres of natural gas transmission and distribution pipelines. FortisBC Inc., FortisBC Energy Inc., FortisBC Energy (Vancouver Island) Inc., and FortisBC Energy (Whistler) Inc. do business as FortisBC. 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.
Background on natural gas rates
Advances in technology have increased natural gas supply in British Columbia, and as a result, the commodity's price has dropped over the past five years. Through that time, delivery and midstream rates have remained stable causing the combined cost of natural gas to decrease.
Image with caption: "The above chart shows the rate history of an average FortisBC residential customer in the Lower Mainland, since January 1, 2008 (CNW Group/FortisBC)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20131202_C6984_PHOTO_EN_34234.jpg
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