Revelstoke MLA questions effectiveness of new fuel transparency reporting requirements

Minister Ralston expects public scrutiny will help regulate gas prices

The Columbia River-Revelstoke MLA is skeptical that newly announced reporting requirements for wholesale gasoline and diesel fuel suppliers will provide relief at the pump.

Last week Bruce Ralston, minister of energy, mines and petroleum resources, announced that companies that import, purchase, store and distribute gasoline and diesel to be sold at retail stations must regularly report to the BC Utilities Commission.

Each report must include details covering fuel imports, storage capacity, bulk sales and wholesale prices.

Ralston said he expects public scrutiny will ensure companies self-regulate and sell at the pump for fair prices.

However, according to Doug Clovechok, MLA for Revelstoke, is currently re-posting publicly-available information from the Kent Group.

“If this information was already available, then why haven’t gas prices already been lowered?” he said in an email to the Review. “Relying on transparency alone won’t help drivers’ pain at the pump. The NDP needs to focus on the factor they control–taxes. Drivers are paying almost 24 cents a litre in taxes in Revelstoke.”

The recent announcement comes several months after the BC Utilities Commission began tracking gas prices in Revelstoke, Powell River, Port Alberni and Squamish after public outcry over fuel prices in those communities. The investigation is set to wrap up at the end of September.

READ MORE: Utilities Commission investigating gas prices in Revelstoke

Clovechok explained the big question is what the government will do with the information once they have it.

“I have been at-bat for the people in our constituency who, for far too long now, have been paying some of the highest gas prices in North America,” he said. “Life has become less and less affordable under this NDP government and this announcement is cold comfort to the people in Revelstoke who continue to be gouged by fuel prices.”

B.C. passed the Fuel Price Transparency Act last year and in March the utility commission was declared the independent administrator of the act, with the authority to collect and publish data on fuel pricing to promote competition in the market.

Submission of the newly required reports will start in October and the data is expected to be available to the public in November.

The requested details are already collected by wholesale fuel suppliers so it will not be onerous for them to collect and provide to the B.C. Utilities Commission, Ralston said.

“The step to regulate prices directly is a big step,” he said, noting the government is not considering fines or other measures to force lower gas prices.

“What I would like to do is to see how the requirement to publish the wholesale prices works out and what effect it may have on prices and then we will consider whether there are further steps necessary.”

—With file by The Canadian Press

Gas prices

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