Cheaper heating gas? FortisBC LNG plans for Revelstoke on hold, but BCUC rate parity application possible

BC Utilities Commission would need to give approval for the roll out commodity charge to become reality.

Revelstoke city hall file photo.

The cost of propane could go down for Revelstoke propane users, but only if FortisBC decides to take a price matching plan to the B.C. Utilities Commission, and also if the provincial utilities regulator accepts the plan.

FortisBC says it’s working on a rollout commodity charge that would result in lower gas bills for its Revelstoke customers using propane. If approved the cost of propane heat would match natural gas rates, which are significantly lower.

The current propane system in Revelstoke is the last FortisBC runs in the province, and Revelstoke is one of the last towns in B.C. on a propane system. Previously the company had planned to convert the propane heating system to liquefied natural gas (LNG), but during a presentation to Revelstoke city council on April 10, FortisBC manager Blair Weston said this is now off the table due to prohibitive costs.

“We decided not to submit an application to the BC Utilities Commission because we decided it was too expensive and also the price between propane and natural gas started to fall,” said Weston.

Weston said currently propane is almost twice as expensive as natural gas and the new plan to apply for a commodity roll out would help to mitigate that. This would mean the rate for Revelstoke would match the rate for natural gas in the rest of the province. FortisBC will need to submit an application to the BC Utilities Commission, who would have final say on whether or not the roll out commodity charge is able to go ahead.

Watch the FortisBC delegate Blair Weston and council questions from the April 11 meeting here:

“We have people actively working on this right now. Right now our plan is to submit this. We’re looking hard into it,” said Weston.

However, the FortisBC rep didn’t say an application to the provincial energy regulator was for certain. It’s also unknown if the BCUC would approve the plan; reducing Revelstoke’s propane rate to match the provincial natural gas rate would mean the savings for Revelstoke users would have to be made up by ratepayers elsewhere. Weston didn’t have figures on what it would mean for ratepayers outside of Revelstoke, but noted that Revelstoke is a relatively small community, and that any increase would be small because it would be spread across all users in the province.

While the potential decrease in heating bills for FortisBC propane customers is a positive for Revelstoke, councillor Trevor English expressed frustration over the utility company’s track record in Revelstoke.

“I really really hope that Fortis is trying to look at a solution for Revelstoke,” said English.

Councillor Connie Brothers said she hoped FortisBC would continue working hard to find solutions for propane customers.

“When we have a hard winter like this year everybody notices the price difference,” said Brothers.