Opinion

Gas relief

IT’S time for the provincial government to address the home heating inequity faced by natural gas users from Vanderhoof west to the coast.

For years northwestern customers of Pacific Northern Gas have been paying more to heat their homes with natural gas than anywhere else because the large industries which once used the majority of the capacity of the utility’s pipeline have disappeared, leaving the remaining customers to shoulder the entire burden of maintaining the line.

That would have changed had the Douglas Channel LNG project at Kitimat gone ahead because it would have taken up all of that surplus capacity and paid its share accordingly.

With that project now shelved, northwesterners will continue paying delivery rates easily three times what they are elsewhere in B.C.

The province has a ready-made tool to deal with this inequity. As part of its revenue-neutral carbon tax policy, the standard $570 homeowner grant currently increases to as much as $770 for northern and rural residents depending upon where they live. It is a partial recognition that they pay more for energy because of where they live.

It would be more than reasonable to increase that amount specifically for northwesterners because of high natural gas delivery rates.

With the May 2017 provincial election not that far away, it is a stance voters should urge candidates to pursue.

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