Unnatural gas

Everyone has been enjoying the fall in the pump price of gasoline. I saw signs in Hamilton today for 81.9 cents a litre, down 34 percent from $1.24 a year ago for regular. The price of a barrel of oil has fallen even further, from US$110 a year ago to US$50 today, down 55 percent. The full extent of the drop in the world price has not yet reached the consumer but at least it’s heading in the right direction.

Natural gas prices have not been behaving in the same friendly manner. My Enbridge bill arrived today with a notice saying there had been a change in price. I fully expected a reduction, given all that I’d been reading, but no, it was yet another increase. I’m now paying 36 percent more per cubic meter than I did last year at this time despite the fact that natural gas inventories are at a 28-month high and wholesale prices are have fallen 36 percent during the last twelve months. 

According to the U.S. Energy Administration Information, American households will see their natural gas bills drop this winter compared to last winter. Not in Canada, at least not in my house. My consumption hasn’t markedly changed but my total payments to date are up 24 percent year-over-year.

What the explanation is I do not know except to say that the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) must be a spineless, non-functioning entity. The OEB appears to blindly approve whatever increase the natural gas distribution companies request. Doesn’t the OEB do any of its own research about the market? The whole thing is reminiscent of the cozy relationship between lobbyists and Members of Congress where each side is integral to the other when it comes to legislation.

The gas companies claim that they don’t make any money on the gas, the profits come only on the $20 monthly customer charge. Don’t make any money on the gas? How can that be when they buy low and sell high? 


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