New regulations aimed at “pulling back the curtain” on B.C.’s gasoline market took effect Friday.
Under the new rules, companies that import, buy, store or distribute gas or diesel products to retailers will need to collect and begin reporting data to the B.C. Utilities Commission (BCUC) in October.
The data includes “detailed information on fuel imports, storage capacity, bulk sales and wholesale prices,” according to the energy ministry.
B.C.’s NDP government passed legislation to to make the reports mandatory last fall, after a BCUC report found an unexplained 13 cent per litre premium on the price of fuel in southern B.C.
The report suggested the higher prices was due to a lack of competition in the market, and were costing British Columbians close to half a billion dollars per year.
“All of these steps are taken as we pull back the curtain on secrecy and keep companies publicly accountable for unfair markups and cost increases that cannot be explained,” said Energy Minister Bruce Ralston, Friday.
“This will help us to bring fairness and transparency to the price B.C. drivers pay at the gas pump.”
But critics aren’t so sure.
The opposition BC Liberals said the regulation will do nothing to bring gas prices down, calling instead for the government to cut fuel taxes.
Gas price analyst Dan McTeague had a similar critique.
“We may be cheering today and saying, ‘Let’s go after those folks and they’re doing us in,'” he said.
“What happens, though, if it does reveal (that) for the better part of the past few years, it’s your own government policies that are contributing mightily to that mystery 13 cents? It’s going to be a massive and colossal disappointment for the government.”
The BCUC will publish the data and information on the factors that influence gas prices at a new website, gaspricesbc.ca.