2022 has been an expensive one for people throughout Canada and the rest of the world.
In Alberta, gas prices have hit heights not seen in years, Albertan electricity prices hit record heights this year, and similarly, natural gas prices hit heights not seen since 2008, reaching prices as high as $9/GJ. While the price of driving, heating our homes, and energizing our gadgets, and driving have all gone up, there are some attempts to alleviate this financial crunch coming from the government.
Previously, the Albertan government had announced plans to help Albertans by offering an electricity rebate and removing the provincial fuel tax. Another initiative, announced in February during the provincial budget, is the introduction of a Natural Gas Rebate. While not much about the specifics had been announced at the time, recently the Provincial government has announced more details on this rebate, which we will detail below. Some specifics are still being determined, which we will update on this page as announcements are made.
The natural gas rebate in Alberta: dates and amounts
From October 2022 to March 2023, eligible Albertans will see a rebate applied directly to their utility bill if the conditions of the rebate are met.
When the regulated natural gas rate offered by one of three of Alberta’s regulated utility providers (which are ATCO North, ATCO South and APEX Utilities) surpasses $6.50 per gigajoule, eligible Albertans will have the difference returned to their pockets.
Rebates will cover the difference between $6.50 and the regulated rate that calendar month. For example, if the rate is $7.50/GJ, eligible consumers would get a rebate on their bill covering $1 for every gigajoule used.
The rebates will start in fall 2022 and will last throughout winter 2023. While we have already seen sharp spikes in energy bills in the last year, the colder weather of these months combined with increased demand mean that natural gas – relied on by many Albertans to heat their homes – typically sees its price spike during the colder months. Offering rebates during this period makes sense to alleviate our energy bills when they reach their peak. Check out this article to understand how extreme winter temperatures can affect your heating costs, as well as for other ways to save when the thermometer drops.
On their page, the UCP government added that “[they] are working with utilities and regulators to determine the exact details of the program”. As that information is released, we will update this article accordingly.
Since you will automatically receive the rebate if you are eligible, knowing the eligibility requirements will be important. You are considered eligible for the rebates if you meet the following criteria:
- You are “connected to the system”.
- You are on either a regulated plan or a competitive plan for your natural gas.
- You use less than 2,500 gigajoules of natural gas annually.
Non-natural gas rebates are also applicable if you use alternative fuels to heat your household, small apartment building complex, or small industrial or commercial site. If you use less than the listed limit of the following alternative fuels, you should be eligible for
- Propane: 16,334 litres per month
- Heating oil: 10,780 litres per month
- Kerosene: 11,068 litres per month
How will the natural gas rebate work for Albertans with a competitive retailer?
Since the rebate will be triggered by regulated rates in Alberta, many questions started to pop up, including how this would work for households and businesses under competitive retailer plans.
Although the rebate will trigger when the highest default natural gas rate among the three default gas suppliers is above $6.50/GJ, it will be applied to all eligible consumers, including those who have a variable or fixed rate below $6.50/GJ. According to the government, this ensures that customers will not be penalized for taking measures to protect against potential future price spikes by signing contracts.
For example, if the default rate tariff rose to $7.00/GJ in December 2022, then all eligible consumers, competitive contract or on the RRO, would receive a rebate of $0.50/GJ on their bill ($7.00/GJ – $6.50/GJ = $0.50/GJ rebate). The rebate amount would be calculated as above and applied directly to the utility bill by the service provider.