SURREY, B.C. — Natural gas supplier FortisBC says prices won’t change for at least another three months, but other charges such as the provincial carbon tax still have the potential to increase the customer’s bill.

A statement from FortisBC Energy Inc. says the British Columbia Utilities Commission has approved the plan to maintain natural gas prices at current levels for all customers until June 30.

But the B.C. carbon tax, which applies to fuels including natural gas, is set to increase on April 1 from $40 to $45 per tonne, after the hike was twice delayed in March and September of last year during the COVID-19 pandemic.

With taxes and other charges excluded, Fortis says current natural gas prices amount to $2.844 per gigajoule for Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island, Whistler and Revelstoke customers, and $2.999 for customers in Fort Nelson.

The Canada Energy Regulator estimates the average Canadian home fuelled by natural gas uses just over 88 gigajoules annually.

FortisBC charges a flat fee to recover fixed costs, a delivery charge and a storage and transport fee, but Diane Roy, vice-president of regulatory affairs with FortisBC, says the utility makes no profit on the cost of natural gas.

“We understand that energy costs are an important decision in household budgets,” Roy says in the statement on Wednesday. “Our priority remains to deliver safe and reliable energy to our customers while working to keep rates as low as possible.”

FortisBC delivers natural gas and electricity to about 1.2 million customers in the province.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 17, 2021.

The Canadian Press