FREDERICTON (GNB) – The provincial government has introduced legislation intended to reduce the volatility of energy prices and enable retailers of petroleum products to recuperate their costs, while continuing to provide consumers with fair market prices.

An Act Respecting Petroleum Products Pricing is meant to ensure that customers are provided with the lowest price possible for petroleum products without jeopardizing the continuity of supply.

“When it comes to fuel prices, New Brunswickers have faced a great deal of uncertainty since the beginning of 2022,” said Natural Resources and Energy Development Minister Mike Holland. “Due to a series of global events, market prices for petroleum products have experienced unprecedented volatility, resulting in a record number of interruptions in gasoline, diesel and heating oil prices.”

New Brunswick began regulating the price of petroleum products in July 2006 under the General Regulation of the Petroleum Products Pricing Act, however Holland said the act and General Regulation have been less effective in the current market and make New Brunswick appear out of step with neighbouring provinces, making these amendments necessary.

One proposed amendment would give the Energy and Utilities Board discretion when it comes to setting prices for petroleum products. Holland said regulating petroleum products is becoming more difficult, and the strict formula used in the past is no longer an option. He added that new federal regulations in 2023 will create more uncertainty in regulated pricing.

“Shifting from a regulation framework that is 100 per cent formula-driven, to one that allows the Energy and Utilities Board to use discretion, will help the regulated price react better to changes in market prices,” said Holland. “These amendments will also make New Brunswick’s regulated price framework similar to our neighbouring provinces, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia, both of whom are allowed significant amounts of discretion in determining their regulated prices.”

Holland said, although these proposed changes would not help with the rising cost of energy, including petroleum products, they would mitigate some of the daily volatility.

The changes would take effect once the bill is passed is passed in the legislature and receives royal assent.