I don’t know where you are, but here in the Great White North’s most northerly metropolis, it was a lovely summer. Until smoke from B.C. forest fires began to blot out the sun for days on end, we had a great string of warm, sometimes even hot, weather. In my view, a very good summer. (My mother-in-law disagrees, however. Like all women in their 80s, it is never hot enough.)
Summer, as it does here, died seemingly overnight. Around this time of year, Father Nature (Mother Nature’s long-suffering, little known husband) rises from his La-Z-Boy, storms over to the world thermostat, and complains “Who turned it up to 28C? I’m not made of money” and turns it down to 18C.
But it was nice while it lasted. July, in particular, was very pleasant.
So why is my natural gas bill $76.13?
I find it’s usually best not to look at my heat and power bills. I do everything in my power to keep both bills low (a letter from Enmax, my power company, tells me my power use is lower than average, so good for me), and it just aggravates me to even look at the bill. But I sucked it up and looked at my most recent bill.
And this is why I don’t look at my bill.
Between July 1-25, I used 1.01 GJ of gas @ $ 1.3301350 / GJ, which came to a total of $1.34 (A gigajoule, according to the internet, is the equivalent to 1 billion joules. This helps not at all). I can’t complain about $1.34 for a month’s worth of gas for hot water (even I’m not that cheap).
But then came the extras.
First, there’s the administration feel of $11.90. Apparently, I’m paying to administer my own billing. Then there’s the transaction fee of $1, based on 1.010 GJ @ $ 0.99. What transaction I do not know.
But wait, there’s more! A LOT more.
The ATCO Fixed Charge clocks in at $43.15. Forty-three dollars to use $1.34 worth of natural gas. And I’m not done with ATCO (or they are not done with me). They then add-on a “variable charge” of 72 cents. Variable what, I do not know.
(What is even more baffling is that these rates change every month. The ATCO fixed charge was $24.54 the previous bill, $28 the month previous to that. How is that fixed? And the variable charge had been $10.37 two bills ago. Seventy-two cents one month, $10.37 in another. I guess that’s why they call it variable.)
Then there’s the mysterious ‘rate riders’, a random charge of $1.88. The City of Edmonton, of course, had to join in the fray. A ‘municipal franchise fee’ paid to the city is $14.61. What franchise is this? Eskimos? Oilers? Who knows.
And finally, there’s Rachel Notley’s pointless political ploy, the carbon levy (‘levy’ is a term politicians use when they don’t want to call something a tax) of $1.53. Jason Kenney, leader of the United Conservative Party, has vowed to scrap the carbon levy if (or more likely, when) he’s elected premier. Jason, if you really want to do everyone a favour, keep the carbon levy and scrap the administration fee, the transaction fee, the fixed charge, the variable charge, the rate rider and the franchise fee.
By the time everyone from ATCO to the city to the province to whoever else is involved have finished digging into my wallet, my bill comes $76.13.
For $1.34 worth of gas.