The B.C. Utilities Commission will be keeping a close eye on gas prices in four cities this summer.
The Fuel Transparency Act allows the commission to legally require companies to share specific retail pricing data, which the commission will then share on gaspricesbc.ca.
“Businesses have an obligation to be fair and not take undue advantage,” Energy Minister Bruce Ralston said.
The commission will collect data from June 1 to Sept. 30 from gas stations in Revelstoke, Powell River, Port Alberni and Squamish.
These municipalities were chosen based on the amount of public feedback that was received from those communities. The commission will also collect data from Langley and Nanaimo for comparison.
In March 2020, Revelstoke had one of the highest gas prices in the province at $1.17 per litre. According to GasBuddy, the average price for gas in the province at the time was $1.05 per litre.
The collection and publication of the data is an effort to promote competitiveness and public confidence in the fuel market, however, the commission does not regulate fuel prices.
Ralston said he does not want to speculate on the outcomes of the investigation, but the act allows for some steps to be taken to ensure accountability and fairness.
MLA for Columbia River-Revelstoke, Doug Clovechok, sent a letter in April demanding answers to the stark differences in gas prices within the constituency.
“Over the past month, Columbia River-Revelstoke, along with many regions across British Columbia, have seen a decrease in gasoline prices as a result of the low demand for oil around the globe,” Clovechok wrote. “On average, prices have fallen roughly 15 cents per litre. However, our region of the province has seen unusual fluctuations in gas prices that have my constituents rightly concerned.”
Today (June 15), the day the investigation was announced, Clovechok said he is pleased that the minister took action.
“Whether you live in Revelstoke, Golden, the Columbia Valley, or Kimberley, the people of my riding not only deserve answers, but deserve prices that reflect those found in other areas of the province,” he said. “I look forward to the [commission]’s report.”
The Fuel Transparency Act became law in November 2019, following an investigation by the commission that found a lack of competition and substantial markups on gas in the province, including a 10-13 cents per litre premium being charged that the industry was unable to explain.