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If the Saskatchewan Rate Review Panel gets their way, heating your home will be marginally cheaper by the spring.

The Panel recently reviewed an application from SaskEnergy and presented their recommendations to Minister responsible for SaskEnergy Bronwyn Eyre yesterday.

SaskEnergy's application was seeking a commodity rate cut from $2.95 per Gigajoule to $2.65 per Gigajoule as of April 1, 2019, and a raise to the delivery service rate by 3.7% on the same date. But the Panel suggested a bigger cut to the commodity rate dropping it down to $2.575 per Gigajoule and smaller increase to the delivery rate by just 3.4%.

Chair of the Panel Albert Johnston said SaskEnergy normally sells natural gas to its customers at the price they acquire it for, but over the last year that hasn't been the case.

"To do that they keep track of what they sell it for and what it costs them and they accumulate any difference in a deferral account they call it the 'gas cost variance account' and then they use that as a way of moving the commodity rate up or down," he explained. "The gas cost variance account had grown to about $16 million by end of October 2018 and that's an amount that's actually owing to customers... Their plan had been to ultimately lower it to $3.3 million as of March 31, 2020, and we felt that was a bit out of step with what their previous practice had been... so our suggestion was to lower that rate even further so by March 31, 2020, the gas cost variance account would be targetted to be zero."

Now that the Panel has presented their case to Eyre, it will be up to cabinet on what SaskEnergy's rates will be set at.

"The minister will, I think, confer with the company SaskEnergy and they will then take a position forward to cabinet and cabinet will make the ultimate decision," he said.

If cabinet follows the Panel's suggestions it would save the average homeowner 11% or $101 annually.

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