The Province has released terms of reference that will guide the British Columbia Utilities Commission’s (BCUC) investigation into what is driving high, volatile gasoline prices in British Columbia.
“The rapid increase in gas prices in B.C. is alarming, increasingly out of line with the rest of Canada, and people in B.C. deserve answers,” said Premier John Horgan. “We asked the BCUC to conduct a fair, transparent and comprehensive independent investigation. These terms provide the broad reach it needs to find answers and give recommendations to inform the path forward.”
The BCUC may exercise any of the powers provided to it under the Utilities Commission Act, including compelling oil companies as witnesses to explain their prices to the commission.
Through the review’s terms of reference, the BCUC has been asked to:
- examine the market factors that affect wholesale and retail prices in British Columbia;
- investigate gasoline price fluctuations, including the extent of possible competition concerns, such as price fixing and gouging;
- explain the difference in refining margins between British Columbia and the rest of Canada, including why in recent months refining margins for Vancouver were more than double the Canadian average;
- explain the difference in retail margins between British Columbia and the rest of Canada, as well as regional difference within British Columbia; and
- review the potential of regulatory measures used in other jurisdictions across Canada and North America to enhance transparency about how prices are determined.
“High and wildly fluctuating gas prices in B.C. are hurting people and B.C.’s economy,” said Bruce Ralston, Minister of Jobs, Trade and Technology. “Speculation and misinformation will not lead to solutions. The BCUC is a respected independent regulator and the appropriate body to investigate gas prices in the best interest of British Columbians. We look forward to the report and recommendations.”
The terms of reference require final report to be delivered by Aug. 30, 2019.