City residents, some rural folks to pay more for natural gas

Red Deer residents who have regulated natural gas rates will see their heating bills decrease this month.

Red Deer residents who have regulated natural gas rates will see their heating bills decrease this month.

For those who live south of town, the reduction will be even higher.

This week, Direct Energy Regulated Services announced July’s natural gas rate changes, which applies to customers who haven’t chosen a competitive retailer within the ATCO Gas north and south service areas. Retailers include Alberta Energy Savings LP, ENMAX Energy Corp. and Direct Energy Essential Services.

The north territory includes customers living in and north of Red Deer. Customers here will see rates slip to $1.92 per gigajoule from $3.261 in June.

Based on an average of 3 GJ, the typical residential gas bill will be about $52.

Anyone living south of Red Deer will have a July bill of $1.481 per gigajoule, down from $3.542 in June. Their average gas bill is $38.

“The regulated rates can change on a monthly basis,” said Lisa Dornan, spokeswoman with Direct Energy of Houston, Tex.

Natural gas rates fluctuate based on a number of factors, including supply and demand.

Alberta Utilities Commission regulates investor-owned natural gas, electric and water utilities, and certain municipally-owned electric utilities. It sets the rates by endeavouring to balance the interests of customers and utility companies.

The city of Red Deer has been a part of the ATCO Gas north region for some time. Consumer advocacy groups have also asked to stay in the north versus the south, according to spokesman Jim Law.

Lorena Charest, communications specialist with the commission, said the rate disparity between the north and the south regions can switch at times.

“In other months, the south region was actually higher,” she said. “It tends to even out.”

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