A person filling up. (Photo by Skitterphoto from Pexels.com)
If you feel like you’ve been gouged by high gas prices for no reason, you’re probably right.
Energy minister Bruce Ralston has announced new, mandatory reporting requirements using the Fuel Price Transparency Act.
It is in answer to an investigation by the BC Utilities Commission (BCUC), when consumers and the province saw prices at the pump shooting up for no apparent reason.
The requirements come into effect immediately and will target companies that import, purchase, store and distribute gasoline and diesel products earmarked for sale at gas stations.
Starting in October, they’ll need to make regular reports to the BCUC.
Ralston said this is the province’s next step in making gas prices transparent.
“We know from the BCUC’s investigation into gas prices that four companies control about 90 percent of the wholesale market in southern British Columbia,” he added. “Companies will have to begin providing regular submissions to the BCUC with detailed information on their fuel imports, bulk sales, wholesale prices and storage capacity. BCUC has the power to publish this information in order to promote transparency and competition in the market.”
Ralston said for years, British Columbians have felt like they are getting gouged when they go to the pump to fill up.
“People were frustrated because they saw gasoline prices shooting up for no apparent reason,” he added. “Our government was concerned about this as well. So we asked the BC Utilities Commission to investigate the rise of gasoline prices in our province.”
He said the BCUC found that our gasoline market is not truly competitive.
“They found a considerable mark-up on the price of gasoline including a 13-cent premium being charged to drivers that the industry could not explain.”
He said this results in British Columbians paying an extra $490 million every year.
He said that’s why the province introduced the Fuel Price Transparency Act.
“Our goal with this legislation was to bring transparency and clarity to BC drivers and send the message to oil and gas companies that the days of setting your prices in total secrecy, are over.”
In March 2020, the BCUC was named as the independent administrator of the FPTA and given the power to collect and publish data on fuel pricing in order to promote competition in the market.
The BCUC has launched a website (www.gaspricesbc.ca) to provide the public with information about the factors that influence fuel gas prices.
Ralston said all of these steps are taken “as we pull back the curtain of secrecy and keep companies publicly accountable for unfair markups and cost increases that cannot be explained.”
Further regulations are also being developed for the other parts of the fuel supply chain, including the retail market.