People with propane service in Whistler will see their bills
increase by 13 per cent annually, after B.C. Utilities Commission’s recent
approval of changes to Terasen Gas rates.
The new rates, which are set to take effect Jan. 1, should
result in an average increase in commodity charges of $241 for Whistler’s
residential customers, but that figure will vary depending on consumption.
Propane is traded on the open market with other commodities
like oil and lumber. Various factors, including weather, supply and demand, and
the price of other energy commodities, can impact the price of propane.
According to a press release issued Dec. 19, propane prices
have risen alongside the price of crude oil throughout the past year, which is
the central reason for the recent rate increase.
“Terasen Gas purchases propane on behalf of our customers and
passes its costs on without mark up,” said Jan Marston, Vice President of Gas
Supply and Transmission.
“We earn revenue on the delivery of propane and work hard to
reduce the impact of rising commodity costs through our purchasing and hedging
Terasen and the B.C. Utilities Commission review propane rates
on a regular basis to “ensure customers receive piped propane service at fair
and reasonable prices.” Every three months, they review the commodity cost, and
every year they examine delivery costs.
Joyce Wagenaar, spokesperson for Terasen, says the increase is
purely a result of market fluctuation, pointing out that while propane as a
commodity has increased in cost natural gas has performed better.
“Natural gas has been relatively stable, and in fact, in
October, natural gas customers in the service territory received a rate
decrease of almost 5.8 per cent for their annual cost on their bill.”
Whistler does not have access to natural gas yet, but Terasen
is currently constructing a natural gas pipeline from Squamish to serve
Whistler. Wagenaar says construction should be complete by next summer, homes
are scheduled for conversion to natural gas by next fall, and the service
should be available next winter.
Terasen also announced that Revelstoke residential customers will face a 15 per cent rate increase in the New Year.