Natural gas customers are facing another tough winter in New Brunswick.
Enbridge Gas New Brunswick has hiked the commodity portion of its bills 11 per cent for December. That is the seventh increase Enbridge has passed on to customers this year.
December's price increase puts Enbridge's commodity price at $11.84 per gigajoule. It's the highest price the company has charged for gas in New Brunswick in more than five years.
The price this month is 78 per cent higher than what the company was charging in December 2012.
Heritage Gas in Nova Scotia has imposed similar increases.
Natural gas analyst Patrick Rau says the increases are the result of natural gas supply problems that are being felt all the way to Boston.
"Prices in the short term are very much determined on how much gas is in storage," said Rau. "We had a huge storage withdrawal last week and we're probably going to get another one this week, so in the short term we could be looking at some sustained higher prices."
Rau says although cheap gas is plentiful in the U.S., pipeline bottlenecks are causing supply problems and price spikes from Boston to Halifax – especially with Nova Scotia's offshore supplies dwindling.
In New Brunswick, natural gas is now just marginally less expensive for home heating than electric baseboard heating.