FortisBC receives approval for adjustments to natural gas rates

Commodity rates passed on to customers without markup

SURREY, BC, June 14, 2013 /CNW/ - FortisBC has received approval from the B.C. Utilities Commission (BCUC) regarding changes to natural gas commodity rates and delivery rates effective July 1, 2013.

Rates and rate structures vary across the FortisBC natural gas service territory. Approved changes include commodity and delivery changes for some customers. Rates in certain service areas remain unchanged.

"FortisBC purchases natural gas for customers from a variety of sources and passes the cost on without markup," said Cynthia Des Brisay, vice-president of energy supply and resource development. "Even with the coming changes, customers will still be benefiting from some of the lowest natural gas costs in recent years. Commodity rates today are still about half of what they were in 2006."

"Natural gas costs fluctuate depending on market conditions," said Des Brisay. "Over the past year, North American market prices have recovered from the depressed levels seen in early 2012 due to increased demand, a colder winter and a slowdown in production growth. These higher costs are requiring us to raise commodity rates. At the same time, delivery costs for some customers will be decreasing following a recent review by the BCUC."

Customers will see changes as follows on July 1, 2013:

Lower Mainland, Fraser Valley, Interior, North and the Kootenays

  • Residential customers will see an increase to the commodity rate of $0.936 per gigajoule (GJ). As part of the BCUC's review of the regulated rate of return for energy utilities in B.C., delivery rates for customers in these regions will decrease $0.294 per GJ. The combined rate change means an increase of $0.642 per GJ, or approximately $61 per year for an average residential customer in the Lower Mainland using approximately 95 GJ.
  • Customer Choice program participants will not be affected by changes to the commodity rate. They will see the above changes to the delivery rates on their bills.

Whistler

  • Residential customers will see their commodity rate increase by $0.936 per GJ. The average residential customer using 90 GJ per year will see an increase of approximately $84 per year.

Fort Nelson

  • Residential rates will remain unchanged from current levels for Fort Nelson customers.

Revelstoke

  • Residential customers receiving piped propane will see no change in the commodity rate of propane.  As part of the BCUC's review of the regulated rate of return for energy utilities in B.C., delivery rates for customers in these regions will decrease $0.294 per GJ.

Vancouver Island, Sunshine Coast and Powell River

  • Residential rates will remain unchanged from current levels for Vancouver Island, the Sunshine Coast, and Powell River customers.

Commodity rates are reviewed each quarter based on our actual costs and a forecast of what our costs to purchase gas will be over the following 12 months. The delivery portion of rates is what FortisBC charges to recover costs associated with delivering natural gas and propane to customers, including pipeline maintenance, emergency services and customer service. Delivery rates enable the company to invest in infrastructure to enhance safety and reliability of the system and meet the future needs of our customers.

For more information and to learn ways to reduce energy use, visit www.fortisbc.com/rates. The FortisBC energy calculator is available to compare the costs of different home heating energy sources as well as individual appliance energy costs at fortisbc.com/energycalculator.

Customers wishing to discuss these changes or impacts to their bill can reach us at 1-888-224-2710.

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.

Backgrounder attached

Backgrounder on Natural Gas Commodity Rates

Natural gas is traded in the North American marketplace as a commodity like oil, gold or lumber. Our commodity rates are reviewed every three months by the BCUC to ensure the rates we are charging appropriately cover the cost of natural gas we purchase on behalf of our customers.

  • Weather, Gulf of Mexico hurricanes, natural gas competitiveness with other forms of energy such as coal, economic conditions and other supply and demand factors can affect the price.
  • FortisBC does not profit on natural gas commodity charges; the price FortisBC pays for the commodity (the gas itself) is a flow through cost.
    • Flow through means that FortisBC purchases natural gas on behalf of its customers and passes the costs through to customers without markup. Customers pay what FortisBC pays for the gas itself.
  • Commodity Rates are reviewed each quarter based on what our actual costs to purchase gas has been over the previous quarter and a forecast of what our costs will be over the following 12 months, based on forward prices set by the market.

The following chart shows the commodity rate history of FortisBC since January 1, 2006. Despite the increase July 1, 2013, the commodity rate is at its second lowest level and well below historical averages.

Image with caption: "FortisBC Historical Natural Gas Commodity Rates (CNW Group/FortisBC)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20130614_C8390_PHOTO_EN_28047.jpg

SOURCE: FortisBC

For further information:

MEDIA CONTACT:
Neal Pobran
Manager, Corporate Communications
FortisBC
Phone: 250-469-8128
fortisbc.com
@fortisBC
youtube.com/fortisBC


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