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Victory over natural gas utilities will see 25 per cent rate reduction

Natural gas users on Vancouver Island will soon see a significant savings on their bills.

That’s because the B.C. Utilities Commission approved an application by FortisBC to amalgamate its three utilities and equalize the price for natural gas throughout B.C.

Coun. Claire Moglove said it was a big win, especially for the Association of Vancouver Island Coastal Communities which had been lobbying for change.

“This is a huge victory for AVICC. AVICC has worked closely to move this forward over the last three years,” Moglove said at last Thursday’s regional district board meeting. “This is huge news.”

Moglove said natural gas rates will be reduced by 25 per cent on the Island, which currently pays more for natural gas than the rest of the province.

Establishing a common rate will level the playing field and allow commercial and industrial users to be more competitive because they will now be paying the same natural gas rates as their off-Island competitors.

Carol Greaves, spokesperson with FortisBC, said equalizing natural gas rates will mean big savings for people who use natural gas in their homes.

“Natural gas rates for residential customers will decrease by about 25 per cent on Vancouver Island over three years,” Greaves said in a release. “FortisBC has yet to determine what these decreases will look like per year, however, once the full decrease is in effect in 2018, the average savings for residential customers is expected to be about $215 annually.

“Commercial customers will see even greater discounts of between 30 and 45 per cent, depending on their commercial rate category,” Greaves added.

The amalgamation involves FortisBC Energy, FortisBC Energy Vancouver Island, and FortisBC Energy Whistler.

The B.C. Utilities Commission had turned down FortisBC’s application to amalgamate in 2013 but reversed its decision on Feb. 26, 2014.

Moglove said several factors went into the decision but among them was new evidence that was presented at the second meeting as well as taking Fort Nelson off the table, which will not be part of the equalization plan.

The equalization plan still has to receive approval from the lieutenant governor. If approved, natural gas customers could see savings starting in 2015.

 

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