Jenny Chen is afraid of the furnace in her parents' house.
It's not a safety issue she's concerned about. It's how much money it will burn through when she fires it up during the coming cold fall and winter weather which has her worried.
Chen said she felt duped into paying a much higher than market rate for natural gas after signing a contract with an independent gas marketing company she claims had promised her cost would be lower than with FortisBC.
Chen said she was keen to save money because she, her husband and four-year-old son rent space in her parents' home because they cannot afford to by their own place yet. So, when a sales representative from Summit Energy BC LP came to the front door at the end of June, she listened to the pitch and thought it would be a good deal to sign up for a five-year, fixed-rate term.
Chen based her decision on her parents' then current FortisBC gas bill she said the sales agent from Summit Energy asked to look at. He then used it to calculate the natural gas charge which he allegedly said amounted to $7.86 a gigajoule.
The rep from Summit Energy assured them his firm's deal would be slightly less at $7.49 a gigajoule. And with an uncertain future for gas prices, locking in would be wise.
Chen mulled it over, and given her family's financial situation signed up.
But afterwards, it turned out that Chen's family was actually paying just $2.97 a gigajoule
"What he (the sales rep) had done was he added up the individual rates on the natural gas bill - the delivery charge, midstream charge and cost of gas - to give us what we thought was the total cost (per gigajoule)," Chen said.
That method of calculation is incorrect, said FortisBC spokesman Michael Allison, adding the rates for delivery, midstream and gas commodity are independent of each other and a per gigajoule rate is not reflected by adding them up.
The only charge gas marketing companies, like Summit Energy, can sell is the commodity rate for the gas itself, Allison said. The delivery and midstream rates are constants FortisBC charges all of its customers.
© Copyright 2013