Alberta Announce Natural Gas Subsidy : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

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Tuesday, December 19, 2000

Alta. announces natural gas subsidy Given as attempt to shield consumers from rising prices By JOHN COTTER-- The Canadian Press

EDMONTON (CP) -- While unprecedented prices for natural gas are pumping millions of dollars into the Alberta treasury, they're also causing unprecedented increases in heating bills.

In another pre-election subsidy announcement, Premier Ralph Klein outlined help for consumers Tuesday with a $275-million rebate program.

"The natural gas price is set by supply and demand in the North American market," Klein said.

"Thanks to the province's solid fiscal position and the high revenues from natural gas, the government is able to return some of these revenues directly to Albertans, who are the owners of the province's resources."

The program will involve a $50 per month per household rebate for the first four months of 2001. Landlords can apply for the rebate but will be encouraged to pass the savings on to renters.

The rebates will also flow to hospitals, schools boards and post-secondary institutions. Businesses and industry will not be covered.

Klein's announcement followed word that some consumers in Ontario may pay almost half as much for natural gas this winter as Albertans even though much of the gas comes from Alberta.

Union Gas of Chatham, Ont., said Tuesday its customers will pay $5.42 per gigajoule starting in January.

That compares with rates of between $9.97 and $11.58 being sought by Atco in Alberta under a rate rider proposal for the period between Jan. 15 and March 31. That rate has yet to be approved by the Alberta Energy and Utilities Board.

Last September the Klein government announced an energy tax rebate of $300 for every Albertan over the age of 16 who filed a tax return last year in a program that cost $690 million.

The first $150 cheque was mailed out in November, with the second $150 cheque to be mailed in April.

Klein has suggested he expects to call an election in February or March.

It's estimated that over a one-year period, for every 10-cent increase in the price of a thousand cubic feet of gas, the government collects an extra $154 million.

If the price of natural gas remains at current levels for the remainder of the fiscal year, the province could reap an extra $1 billion above the most recent budget update forecast.

-- Rachel Gibson (, December 19, 2000

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