Propane cost inflation in the last two years resulted in an increase in commodity rates for residential and commercial establishments in Sun Peaks.
The rate increase, which took effect last June 1, is $4 per gigajoule for all rate groups, including residential, small commercial and large commercial customers.
This translates to a 12.9 per cent increase of overall annual gas costs for residential condos and 20.5 per cent overall increase to large commercial spaces.
Sun Peaks Utilities (SPUCL) has a Gas Cost Reconciliation Account, or GCRA, that allows the company to set a fixed cost once a year based on the forecast of fuel commodity cost. The GCRA is a deferral account that captures overages and shortages between the actual commodity cost and the price billed to the customers.
Pat Miller, SPUCL’s manager, said that the amount owed in the GCRA account is now at its highest yet.
In the fall of 2010, SPUCL applied for a 5.9 per cent commodity rate instead of 12 per cent, which would have covered the full commodity price. Seasonal trends have shown that prices normally dropped in the spring, balancing out the GCRA even though the fuel rates were initially set lower than the actual cost. However there hasn’t been a drop in prices in the last two years, said Miller.
SPUCL will review its GCRA and submit a report before Nov. 16 that includes a 12-month propane cost forecast to the B.C. Utilities Commission. If necessary, they will apply to the Commission for another commodity rate increase to be effective Dec. 1, 2011.
“We’re pretty confident that we’ll be able to hold back for a while,” said Miller. “But we’ll continue to keep customers advised via our newsletters and website.”
Compared to similar mountain communities like Panorama and Big White, Miller said the commodity cost in Sun Peaks is very comparable.
SPUCL is also looking at the possibility of using natural gas as an alternative to propane. Building a 32-kilometre natural gas pipeline to the resort was previously turned down as a costly option. But now that the resort has grown, Miller said they will re-evaluate the proposal to see if the estimated long-term savings would justify building the pipeline.
For more information, visit www.sunpeaksutilities.com or call 250-578-5490.