Enbridge Gas says cutting homeowner rates for February and March to get prices 20 per cent below electricity could cost $1.8 million.

The Energy and Utilities Board has adjourned making a decision on whether to force Enbridge Gas New Brunswick to lower residential natural gas prices for the remainder of the winter.

A date for a decision has not been set.

The cuts could mean an average savings of $100 per month for homeowners, evidence submitted to the EUB suggests. 

Enbridge, which had promised residential gas customers that their bills would average at least 20 per cent below the cost of electric heat, argued against the cuts during an EUB hearing on Monday.

Company lawyer Len Hoyt said reducing homeowner rates in February and March to meet that promise could cost $1.8 million.

Hoyt blamed the Alward government's suspension of Enbridge's deferred expense account for ending the company's ability to finance temporary rate cuts.

Enbridge is scheduled to undergo a full rate hearing next month and argued for residential rates to be decided on then.

The company says because the Alward government merged about 1,000 small commercial customers into a group with about 8,000 residential customers, the requirement to deliver 20 per cent savings to homeowners has changed significantly.   

Commercial customers pay 23 per cent more for electricity than residential customers and Enbridge says it only needs to provide "blended" savings to the entire group.

It says one natural gas rate that provides 20 per cent savings to the group would individually provide six per cent savings to homeowners and 37 per cent savings to commercial users. 

But public intervener René Basque called on the EUB to implement full 20 per cent savings to residential customers directly, saying promises made by Enbridge and government to homeowners must be enforced.

The EUB deliberated for about 30 minutes, then announced a decision would be delayed.