Residential and small commercial natural gas users will be getting some relief on their natural gas bills starting in May after the Energy and Utilities Board ordered a 14-per-cent cut to their distribution rates.
The energy regulator released its decision on Enbridge Gas New Brunswick’s 2014 rate proposal on Monday.
Gilles Volpé, the general manager of Enbridge Gas New Brunswick, said the new rates will be in place by May 1.
“The new rates set a path for a sustainable and healthy public utility. When a public gas utility is able to recover its full revenue requirement (cost of operations), it is able to ensure the safe and reliable delivery of natural gas and invest in growing the system and the number of customers. This provides the opportunity to reduce costs for all customers,” Volpe said in a statement on Tuesday.
The distribution rate cut will help a significant portion of Enbridge’s customer base. Residential and small commercial users account for 82 per cent of Enbridge’s 12,000 customers.
Commercial and large industrial natural gas users will be seeing their distribution costs rise marginally. Enbridge Gas has been given regulatory approval to increase those rates by 2.5 per cent.
The EUB also ruled the natural gas company could not bill ratepayers for the $1.1 million in legal fees associated with the company’s fight with the Alward government over its contract with the provincial government.
Volpé said in an interview last week that his company is still hurting from the Alward government’s 2011 reforms. He said Enbridge investors see “New Brunswick as a riskier place to do business than Colombia.”
The provincial government, however, did announce last week that it would help Enbridge Gas by allowing the company to receive higher payments from six of the province’s largest buyers of natural gas starting in 2019.
The legislative changes announced last week have been recommended by Enbridge for 15 years.
Volpé said this decision will benefit other natural gas customers when the higher payments come into force.
But the company’s general manager said it is difficult to determine exactly how much of a savings will be passed onto other customers in five years.