Soaring gas prices in N.B. see some customers switch to oil
Natural gas prices are more than double what they were last winter
Some natural gas customers in New Brunswick are abandoning the fuel in light of soaring prices, which are at an all-time high this month.
New Brunswickers are paying between four and six times more than natural gas customers in Ontario and Quebec.
Gas shortages in New England have contributed to price spikes by all three of New Brunswick's suppliers.
Enbridge Gas is now charging 105 per cent more for natural gas than it did this time last year, Irving Energy is charging 122 per cent more and Park Fuels, 140 per cent more.
"The state we're in now, we're confused. We don't know why all of a sudden costs so much," said Dave Biron, who runs the Maritime Opportunities Centre office complex in Saint John.
"There's supposed to be so much of it, it's supposed to be clean-burning and cheap."
Biron switched to natural gas years ago, paying nearly $200,000 to install a natural gas furnace and heating system.
But after an eye-popping bill of $26,000 in December and a notice that prices were jumping 50 per cent more in January, he switched back to using his mothballed oil furnace.
"We're definitely way ahead of the game on oil now than natural gas, for sure," he said.
NB Power has also turned on its oil fired generators at Coleson Cove, which is suddenly competitive in the export market against natural gas generating plants in New England.
The province's largest power plant has often sat idle in the past because it was too expensive to burn fuel oil.
On Thursday, New Brunswick's Energy and Utilities Board ordered Enbridge Gas to cut distribution rates by nearly 60 per cent for about 9,000 homeowners and businesses in the province.
It could cut typical residential heating bills by about $100 a month and small business bills by double that amount.