Gas rate cuts helping businesses more than homeowners

Savings from natural gas distribution changes ordered by the New Brunswick government last year are generating more savings to business and less to residential customers than originally announced, according to new figures.

David Ganong, president of Ganong Bros. Limited in St. Stephen, acknowledges businesses "pushed hard" for the changes and are pleased with the financial results.

"It has helped to improve the competitiveness of New Brunswick processors who are using natural gas and have to compete outside the borders of New Brunswick," he said.

"We thank them [the provincial government] for that."

Ganong says his plant is saving about $100,000 a year thanks to pricing changes that took effect Oct. 1.

The plant is one of 562 businesses and large government institutions that Enbridge Gas New Brunswick estimates will share $19 million in rate cuts this year.

According to Enbridge, 456 of those customers are in its new large general service class and are saving an average of 58 per cent each on their gas distribution charges.

That's beyond the range of 40- to 50 per cent in savings Energy Minister Craig Leonard predicted for larger businesses when he initiated the changes last December.

By contrast, residential savings, which Leonard predicted would range between 10 and 15 per cent, have not materialized in the same way.

According to Enbridge, a typical residential customer who switched to gas from oil is saving just 7.7 per cent on distribution charges this year over what they were being charged last October.

Meanwhile, homeowners who switched from electricity, or installed gas in a newly built house, are paying 9.2 per cent more.

Last August, Enbridge warned that savings from government-ordered rate cuts were heavily tilted toward business and that hundreds of residential customers would get no benefit at all — even though government originally claimed every customer would get some relief.

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