Propane prices to go up 16 per cent 

BCUC approves a lower rate for Whistler than proposed by Terasen

The costs of natural gas and propane will be going up July 1, but the cost won’t be as high for Whistlerites as was originally proposed.

The B.C. Utilities Commission (BCUC) has approved a propane rate increase of 16 per cent for Whistler, rather than Terasen Gas’s proposed increase of 22 per cent. That will still mean an increase of approximately $323 per year for a typical Whistler home, depending on consumption. The annual bill for propane for residential customers in Whistler will go from approximately $2,058 to $2,381, depending on consumption.

The BCUC also approved an 11 per cent increase for most of Terasen’s natural gas customers, as well as a 17 per cent increase in propane rates for customers in Revelstoke.

But those aren’t the only increase gas and propane users in British Columbia will be facing.

Also starting July 1, the provincial government’s carbon tax will be tacked onto gas and propane bills, which Terasen will collect on behalf of the provincial government. The carbon tax will begin at a rate of $10 per tonne of associated carbon emissions and rise by $5 a year for the next four years until 2012.

With the carbon tax in place, drivers will also be paying approximately 2.4 cents more per litre of gasoline, a rate that will cap out at 7.2 cents per litre in 2012.

The carbon tax was passed as part of the 2008 B.C. budget.

Propane is more expensive than natural gas because it is more closely associated with oil than natural gas, and the cost of oil has risen significantly in recent months.

However, Terasen spokeswoman Joyce Wagenaar noted that costs for Whistler residents will go down once a natural gas pipeline from Squamish to Whistler is finished. The pipeline is supposed to be completed in March 2009, while conversions to natural gas are slated to be complete by June 2009.

Terasen Gas stated in a news release that the costs of natural gas or propane account for most of a typical residential gas bill. The company’s earnings come from delivery charges, or the amount that Terasen charges to bring natural gas or propane to a home or business.

The news release states that delivery rates have remained flat for the past six years.

Terasen reviews natural gas and propane commodity prices every three months with the BCUC to make sure the “flow-through” rates customers are paying can cover the cost of purchasing the gas.

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