Recent History – 1998
Jan. 5, 1999, by Mark Nielsen, Daily News Staff
Dawson Creek homeowners who use natural gas will get an average seven per cent increase on their bill if the British Columbia Utilities Commission accepts an application from Pacific Northern Gas (PNG). PNG director of regulatory affairs and gas supply, Craig Donohue, said the rate increase is being requested in part to cover a $187,000 shortfall in revenue in 1998 along with a projected increase in the price of natural gas. In all, PNG is asking for a 56-cent per gigajoule increase in the rate, with 16-cents to make up for the shortfall, and the remaining 40-cents for the increase in the price of natural gas.
Donohue said that if the forecast for the cost of gas supply is too high, customers will get a refund, but if it’s too low, they’ll be charged extra. He said the price is expected to increase back to their usual level after a warm winter in 1998 depressed the cost of natural gas.
A pre-hearing conference is set to be held on January 15 in Vancouver with a video-conferencing link to the Community Skills Centre in Dawson Creek. The conference will be used to decide if the matter should go to a full public hearing or if it can be resolved through negotiation.
As such, Donohue said the rate hikes PNG is asking for are not set in stone, but he is not expecting there will be much opposition.
“These are fairly modest increases, most of which are directly related to supply cost increases which are something that we don’t earn a profit on anyway,” he said. “What we pay is what you pay. There is nothing hidden in that part of the retail rate.” He said that the rationale for the rate hike is similar to that for the recently-approved increases for B.C. Gas customers.
The conference is also being held for proposed increases in Fort St. John and Tumbler Ridge. PNG is asking for a four per cent increase in Fort St. John and a 15 per cent increase in Tumbler Ridge.