A Red Deer man is complaining about “price gouging” after home heating bills rose dramatically in February.
Reza Boroumand is aware of last month’s cold snap — but he doesn’t believe this explains why the per giga jul price of natural gas on his Enmax bill doubled from $2.65 to $4.23, when the global market price didn’t rise as dramatically.
“I’ve emailed, called Enmax, left messages, and I get no answer,” said Boroumand.
The Rosedale resident decided to speak up because he knows people on fixed incomes, including his parents, are having trouble covering their heating bills and are having to pay in installments.
“Everybody is already hurting for money during the pandemic, and then there are all these (fixed) fees on our bills — and then on top of everything else there is this price gouging…
“Isn’t anyone looking after the people these days? I know the government isn’t. They’ve added a carbon tax,” said Boroumand.
His January Enmax bill came to $147, including the $40 of actual gas he used and a bunch of fixed fees.
According to Enmax, these are needed to cover delivery and infrastructure maintenance costs.
In February, Boroumand’s Enmax bill totalled $205, including $80 for natural gas. He wondered why his gas price had shot up so high, and then noticed that the per giga jul price of natural gas on his bill had doubled from January.
An Enmax representative later told him the price was expected to remain high this month.
“It sounds predatory to me,” said Boroumand. “When people can’t pay their bills and I see them struggling, something needs to be done.”
Enmax Energy responded to these concerns on Tuesday by stating price fluctuations are due to supply and demand, as well as weather factors.
“In the last several years, floating natural gas rates have been very low, and customers on floating rates been able to enjoy prices that averaged below $2 per GJ from 2019 to 2020,” the company stated in an email to the Advocate.
“In February, due to very cold weather and high demand, the price increased by slightly more than 50 per cent, and has since returned to somewhat lower levels.
“Similar conditions were seen across North America, and prices rose even more steeply in some other markets. Customers also used more natural gas to heat their homes during the recent cold weather in February, which also contributed to higher bills.”
Enmax offers customers either fixed or floating rates: “Floating electricity rates for most EasyMax residential customers match regulated prices in each customer’s service area, and for natural gas they are based on a market set price,” the company stated.
“These prices fluctuate each month are due to factors including supply and demand and weather changes.”