SaskEnergy has helped out the Energy city throughout the winter, reducing our rates.
Dave Burdeniuk Director of Media Relations with SaskEnergy, "We did apply to the rate review panel in November, and that was for rate changes that we were going to make in April. The rate review panel is taking the time to look at both parts of our bill. The delivery rate is the rate that handles our internal costs and the commodity rate is us going out to buy gas for our customers. But the big thing that happened in 2018 is that our rate went from $3.65 per unit or per gigajoule, and we asked permission from the government to lower our rate November 1st to $2.95. So that was quite the substantial rate drop, heading into winter for our customers. And that rate is in effect until April 1st, as we've actually asked to take the rate down even further to $2.65 a unit. Both of those rates are the lowest we've offered in 19 years."
Burdeniuk was pleased, "Going into winter when our customers use the majority of natural gas, we were pleased that we were able to pass along lower rates to our customers. That was one of the big changes for us that happened in 2018. Another is that even though we're still part way through our year but it is looking like damage to pipelines will be down again this year. That would be the 4th year in a row we've seen damage reduced. It looks like it will be about a 7% reduction in damage. And that's from contractors or homeowners that for a couple of reasons will hit our lines. Usually, because they won't call for a line locate, and get us to send someone out to mark our lines. Or it could be a contractor or homeowner that isn't digging around safely by a line that is marked. And to see a reduction in damage for us is big because that means everytime a pipeline is struck that is the potential for someone to be hurt or potentially for fatalities. Let alone damage to service area or damage to equipment. So if we can keep seeing damage reduced that is a good thing for us."
SaskEnergy continues to be leaders in the industry in regards to safety, "Safety is big for SaskEnergy, we will have spent over $100 million in 2018/19 on safety programs. That's keeping our infrastructure safe, making sure that we monitor our lines, that we check for things like underground leaks. We do surveys with equipment above ground to check for leaks, and that can tell us if there is a problem underground. Just the various types of inspection digs and any upgrading that we do. We will have 100 million dollars in that will be spent this year. Safety continues to be our primary focus and it was in 2018 and were pleased that it looks like we will be able to reduce our damage again this year."
They are expanding, "We will have added about 4000 new customers to our customer base, and that will be residential, business, commercial, and industrial customers added. So our customer base will have exceeded 400,000 customers. Which is the most ever for SaskEnergy, so we're continuing to see growth and planning for growth. To keep building more pipelines to expand our capacity to bring more natural gas into the areas where it's needed. And we have to stay 3 to 4 years ahead of where the demand is. If a new subdivision or a new factory, or a new mine opens up they need that natural gas capacity at the time they open up. So we need to really look ahead and see where growth is happening, where is the demand going to happen, and can we develop more pipeline capacity."
"We do bring in gas from producing areas like southeast of Saskatchewan, but we're also bringing in gas from Alberta. We purchase our gas from producers both in Saskatchewa and Alberta, and we just have to make sure we have the pipeline capacity to get the gas where it needs to be. And that we purchase enough gas so that when you have days like this, with really extreme windchills, that when you go to turn your thermostat up that your furnace has a fuel supply. So we have to make sure the pipelines are there to bring the gas and that we actually go out and purchase the volume of gas the customers need.
"In the winter you'll use 3/4's of the gas that you will consume in a year. That will happen in those 4 to 5 really extreme winter months. That's when most of our homes natural gas usage will happen."