Historically low natural gas prices – a ten-year record low – has some consumers paying more in carbon tax than in gas prices. (File photo)

Fortis customer shocked by high carbon tax on gas bill

Utility says comparison looks off due flat rate on tax, low cost of gas

When Roy Weber sat down to look at his latest natural gas bill, he was scratching his head wondering how the provincial carbon tax is pricier than the actual gas used to heat his home.

“It just automatically comes out of our bank account, so it’s something we don’t look at all the time,” said Weber. “But I sat down to look at this one and realized what it tallied up to… when I saw the carbon tax at $14.25 and my entire gas bill was $35, that is close to 40 per cent.”

Fortis BC says the comparison only looks shocking due to the record-low price of gas.

Tany Laing Gair, a communications officer with Fortis B.C., says the current historically low price of natural gas, paired with the fixed rate charge of B.C.’s carbon tax, can make for an odd side-by-side comparison of the two totals.

Related: Saskatchewan, Ottawa carbon tax case ‘monumental’ for Constitution

Related: B.C. carbon tax now costs more than natural gas it is charged on

“The price of the carbon tax is higher currently than the cost of gas, for homeowners as of April 18, 2018 it is about $1.73 per gigajoule (GJ), and the cost of gas is about $1.54 per GJ, which is the lowest it has been in over a decade and we don’t see that changing,” she says. “Some people are seeing the carbon tax as really high on their bill, it can appear the bills have gotten higher even though the cost of gas is so low.”

She adds that Fortis B.C. has no control over the amount charged for the carbon tax, and collects the money on behalf of the provincial government, clarifying the company does not gain any revenue for doing this.

For his part, Weber finds it odd that natural gas, supposedly a cleaner, greener method of heating than others such as electric heat, is subject to this seemingly steep tax.

“It’s not reasonable to burn electricity either for heat, unless you have to, but natural gas was supposed to be such a cheap commodity. It’s also a cleaner fuel, you don’t get the smoke and you don’t get all the same negatives. But taxing it like this could be bad for everybody,” he says.

Related: Smaller companies worry they can’t pass carbon tax costs to customers

He also says he would support the carbon tax more if he had a clearer picture of what those tax funds were used for.

“A tax on our vehicles and gasoline at least is designated to go towards road repairs or bridge repairs, but this one is not designated to go anywhere,” he says.


 

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