Motorists saw gas prices fall nine cents or more a litre by Friday afternoon at most Red Deer gas stations as a provincial tax break kicked in that will last until at least the end of June.
Premier Jason Kenney followed through on an earlier promise to stop collecting the province’s 13-cents-per-litre gas tax as long as the average price of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) — considered the global benchmark price for oil — remains above $90 US per barrel. WTI was $100 a barrel on Friday.
However, the price relief was partly offset by a boost in the federal carbon tax, which increased Friday to $50 per tonne — adding just over two cents per litre.
Kenney held a news conference outside a south Calgary Co-op gas station on Friday, where regular gas was posted at 156.6, to trumpet the gas tax cut, which would save Albertans $1.4 billion if continued for a year.
“This goes a long way to repairing the damage from the Liberal/NDP carbon tax,” said Kenney.
“We’re not going to take more money out of people’s pockets if we don’t need it to maintain a balanced budget in Alberta.”
By early Friday afternoon in Red Deer prices ranged from 152.9 at a number of north-end stations to as high as 169.9 at one Gasoline Alley station that had yet to lower its price.
Red Deer drivers were not surprisingly happy to see prices coming down. A couple said they had strategically waited until Friday to gas up.
“What do I think about it? Of course, it’s great,” said Linda Hutton.
With prices on the rise for so many things, anything that saves people money right now is welcomed, she said.
“I don’t know why anybody would be unhappy about it.”
Wanda Bakes held off gassing up her near-empty tank until Friday to take advantage of the price drop.
“I’m curious to see how much $100 will get me this time. Last week, when I filled up it was $1.65 so I was happy to see this. A little bit goes a long way.”
Al Smart was also happy to pay less, although he was filling up with diesel, which is higher than regular gasoline.
“It’s been nice that we’re getting these reductions, although diesel is still pretty high,” said Smart as he gassed up his pickup at a north-end Red Deer station. “It used to be a lot cheaper than regular gas but now it’s 15 cents higher.
“But it’s nice to see (prices) coming down. At least we’re getting something back from the government.”
Kenney said that beyond the gas tax savings, a $150 electricity rebate will be handed out in the spring, which is expected to save Albertans another $300 million, he said.
The province has also proposed a natural gas rebate that would come into effect if regulated natural gas rates top $6.50 a gigajoule between October 2022 and March 2023 for consumers using less than 2,500 gigajoules annually.
The measures will help Albertans who are facing higher bills with inflation at a 30-year high of nearly six per cent. The cost of food has increased by 18 per cent since the federal carbon tax was introduced, said the premier.