Drivers could be paying a lot more at the pump this week due to an increase in wholesale prices brought about by the deep freeze in Texas and the central U.S., according to energy pricing analyst Dan McTeague.
It’s a trend that’s expected to continue throughout the summer, with prices projected to reach as high as $1.38-per-litre across B.C. and $1.70-per-litre in the Lower Mainland.
High gas prices are something that many British Columbians have become habituated with, but Columbia-River Revelstoke MLA Doug Clovechok believes it doesn’t have to be this way.
“Myself and my constituents are frustrated with gas prices and all of B.C.’s prices with fluctuations between one centre to another, there’s no reason for it,” said Clovechok.
“There can be a huge gap in prices between Sicamous and Revelstoke even.”
Currently, gas in Golden is approximately $1.32-per-litre, while to the west on Highway 1 in Revelstoke, gas costs about $1.40-per-litre.
To the south along Highway 95, gas is coming in at $1.28-per-litre in Invermere, before dropping even further to $1.23-per-litre in the Cranbrook area, according to GasBuddy.com.
It’s this kind of discrepancy that has B.C. residents up in arms about price gauging.
“This has been ongoing for years and no one has been able to figure it out,” said Clovechok.
“Our MP Rob Morrison has been looking into this as well, but we are going to keep pushing this issue in Victoria.”
In November 2019, the provincial government passed the fuel transparency act, which required companies in the fuel industry in B.C. to report information and data, including bulk sales and wholesale prices, after an investigation by the British Columbia Utilities Commission (BCUC) found that British Columbians were inexplicably paying more at the pump.
The purpose of the act was to ensure market competitiveness and gauge public confidence in that competitiveness, as well as address the “unexplained” difference of approximately 6-13 cents per litre in wholesale prices between communities in B.C., according to the Government of B.C.
A year ago in March 2020, the BCUC was named as the independent administrator of the act and given the power to collect and publish data on fuel pricing and the factors that contribute to fuel pricing in the province.
According to Clovechok, Revelstoke was given a pilot project last year to collect data on gas companies and the fuel industry, with that data being collected in November 2020. That data can be viewed on the BCUC website on a dashboard that compares average fuel prices in 11 communities across B.C.
Clovechok said that the problem with the act is that the BCUC has no power to enforce fair pricing.
“Unfortunately the current government is taking their sweet time about it and we’ve had no answers from the BCUC, we’re not much farther along than we were a year ago, we’re pretty much in the same place,” said Clovechok.
The BCUC is currently reviewing its data to prepare for analysis and that the public is handcuffed while they await the final report, said Clovechok.
He stated he’s been in touch with the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation’s office to try and bring the issue to the forefront. He is encouraging his constituents to make their voices heard by contacting him or sending letters to Minister Bruce Ralston so that it’s in writing that this is a pressing issue for communities across B.C.
~ With files contributed by Zoe Ducklow