Kelowna gas

By popular demand, information about gas prices in Kelowna, West Kelowna, Vernon, and Kamloops has been added to a website operated by the B.C. Utilties Commission. Previously, Revelstoke was the only Interior community referenced on the site.

Drivers in the Central Okanagan can now get more information on the cost of gas they pump into their vehicles.

Kelowna and West Kelowna have been added to a website that aims to explain why fuel prices vary so much across different communities.

"This new page includes gas and diesel price information for the cities we heard from most," states a Thursday release from the B.C. Utilities Commission.

Previously, the only city in the Interior for which gas pricing information was provided was Revelstoke. The expanded list also includes Vernon and Kamloops.

The BCUC is the administrator of the Fuel Price Transparency Act, passed by the NDP government, in response to public concerns about apparent price gouging at the pumps.

The website, GasPricesBC.ca, shows daily fuel prices in a variety of cities, as well and lists the components that affect fuel prices, such as wholesaling costs at the nearest terminal.

Also shown are fuel volumes at refineries, and statistics on refined fuel imports and exports.

The overall intent, according to the BCUC, is to give drivers more information about fuel prices in the hope of spurring more competitiveness in the gas retailing industry.

The BCUC does not regulate gasoline or diesel prices, as it does with commodities such as natural gas and electricity which are typically delivered to consumers by monopolies or near-monopolies.

Government officials say the additional information on the website will help ensure fuel companies are held publicly accountable for unexplained markups and price increases.

"For years, British Columbians have felt that they are getting gouged when they fill up at the pump," energy minister Bruce Ralston said when the website was launched. "That's why our government asked the BCUC to do an investigation into gasoline prices."

A government-directed investigation found there was a 10 to 13 per cent mark-up on gas prices that industry officials were unable to account for, Ralston said.

But the opposition Liberals said that investigation was flawed because the role of government taxes in determining retail prices was specifically excluded from the probe's mandate. Provincial taxes on gas are the highest in North America, Liberal energy critic Peter Milobar said.

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