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Propane gets pricier

Terasen receives go-ahead from B.C. Utilities Commission to raise residential rates in New Year



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 strategies.”

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.