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Dave Charleson, the general manager of Enbridge Gas New Brunswick, said negotiations broke down between the company and the provincial government. ((CBC))

Enbridge Gas New Brunswick and the New Brunswick government have failed again to solve their ongoing dispute over natural gas distribution costs in the province.

The natural gas company is now considering legal action against the provincial government and possible staff cuts.

Dave Charleson, the general manager of Enbridge Gas New Brunswick, said in an interview that the company has notified the provincial government it is "taking steps to preserve its legal rights."

The natural gas company has not filed a lawsuit yet.

Charleson said the potential legal action is not about a law passed by the legislative assembly in December that essentially broke the company’s contract. But the legal action would be about the natural gas regulatory regime in New Brunswick.

Charleson said there are no layoffs imminent at the natural gas company.

But he said managers are talking to staff in the province about how the provincial government’s actions could affect staffing levels.

The legislative changes were introduced in December after talks between the provincial government and Enbridge failed to result in a new agreement.

Under the legislative changes, Enbridge’s rate categories were changed. It also sets out several key dates on when the company must have its new rates approved by the Energy and Utilities Board.

Current rates are fixed until Sept. 30. Enbridge must make a new application to the EUB under the new rules by May 31.

The Alward government has said the changes were necessary to bring down the cost of natural gas in the province.

However, Bud Bird, a founding investor in Enbridge and a high-profile Progressive Conservative, called the legislative reforms "devious."

He also compared the Alward government to Hugo Chavez's regime in Venezeula.