What does the natural gas market in British Columbia look like?
The natural gas market in British Columbia (BC) has been deregulated for more than 10 years now. Most consumers in BC can choose their natural gas suppliers from a wide range of competitive retailers. This allows people not only to seal a contract with any natural gas provider that they want, but also to decide whether they want to buy fixed or variable natural gas rates.
In addition, consumers are also able to purchase natural gas from FortisBC, the regulated utility provider in British Columbia. As the regulated utility option, all the FortisBC natural gas rates are supervised by the British Columbia Utilities Commission (BCUC). In some regions, including Mainland & Vancouver Island, Fort Nelson, Revelstoke and some rural areas, people can only buy gas from the regulated provider.
In British Columbia, FortisBC’s gas plans are offered at floating, market-based rates that change from time to time, whereas competitive retailers provide users with fixed-rate plans.
How can the BC deregulated market help me find the best natural gas rates?
In most markets, the rule is simple: the more options, the lower the price. Once consumers have the opportunity to choose who will provide them with natural gas, they can select the cheapest natural gas rates and the best energy plans based on their needs.
In British Columbia, there are many competitive gas suppliers in Canada, including Direct Energy, Just Energy, Planet Energy, FortisBC, Summit Energy, Access Gas Services and Bluestream Energy. Energy suppliers have similar standards, but their rates can be considerably different from each other depending on what’s affecting the cost of natural gas in your area.
What affects the cost of natural gas in BC?
From the most seasonal factors to the most unexpected episodes, many things can affect the average natural gas bill in BC and anywhere else in Canada. Generally, commodity, delivery and other fees will account for the largest portions of your natural gas bills. Yet, there can always be surprising price changes based on demand and even weather events. All the rate changes, however, are reviewed by the British Columbia Utilities Commission regularly.
The Enbridge pipeline explosion
A critical example of how the cost of natural gas in BC can be affected by multiple causes is the Enbridge pipeline explosion in Prince George on October 9, 2018. Due to the pipeline explosion, FortisBC announced that consumers would see an increase in natural gas rates during winter 2018-2019.
As of March 2019, the pipeline is almost entirely repaired, and consumers are expecting natural gas prices to slowly go back to regular rates. According to FortisBC, the consumers’ efforts to conserve gas during winter has been helping the province to avoid major gas shortages and dramatic price spikes. Actually, on March 18, 2019, the energy company published a news release letting customers know that it got approval from the BCUC to maintain the cost of gas at current levels for people in Mainland, Vancouver Island and Whistler as well as Fort Nelson. Revelstoke residential customers, however, will see an increase in the propane rates from $10.621 per GJ to $11.446 per GJ, as of April 1, 2019.
The cheapest gas rates in BC: How to compare prices and cut energy costs at home in 2019
“Why is my natural gas bill so expensive in BC?” If you’ve been asking yourself that lately, perhaps it’s time to review your natural gas supplier. Of course, many utility charges and fees will be the same across British Columbia. Still, you can cut your energy costs by securing the cheapest available rates in your area.
If you’re looking for cheap gas in BC, the best you can do is to compare natural gas rates. EnergyRates.ca is a cost comparison tool that lets you find the best current rates and the natural gas providers by postal code. Once you fill in your BC postal code, the website will list all the major natural gas providers in the province for both floating- and fixed-rate residential plans. Consumers looking for small business, commercial or industrial gas suppliers can even get a custom rate comparison report.
Current natural gas rates in BC
After you fill in your postal code at EnergyRates.ca, you will be able to check all the available current natural gas rates in BC for utility suppliers in many British Columbia locations, such as Kitimat, Vancouver, Burnaby, Surrey, Prince Rupert, Victoria, Golden, Fort St. John, Hope and Delta.
As of March 2019, the natural gas rates in BC ranged $1.549 to $6.76 per gigajoule (GJ), depending on the natural gas providers and the available plans. Usually, fixed-rate plans are offered under one-, two- or three-year contracts, which can reduce or increase the price they charge per GJ. In general, longer terms tend to offer lower natural gas prices.