Stetski raises concerns on propane gas merger

Stetski raises concerns on propane gas merger

The Canadian Competition Bureau has ordered Superior Propane to sell assets and open up customers’ contracts based on a letter from Kootenay-Columbia MP Wayne Stetski, says the parliamentarian.

“This is good news for East Kootenay residents and for many rural residents across Western Canada” Stetski said. “It will help ensure competitive market prices for propane, which is so critical to many Kootenay-Columbia families for cooking and heating.”

The MP said the letter stemmed from a merger between CanWest and Superior, which would have resulted in only one supplier for much of the East Kootenay region that could have created a monopoly situation and potentially higher prices.

Stetski said he wrote the Commissioner of Competition as soon as he learned of the merger and requested a report on the impact to consumers.

“Those companies are the only providers of propane in this part of my riding where propane is commonly used to fuel home heating and cooking, in addition to recreational uses,” Stetski wrote in his letter. “Reducing the competition to one company may have negative repercussions in terms of price and service. Natural gas is not available in the Columbia Valley.”

Based on Stetski’s inquiry, the Competition Bureau has ordered Superior to sell it’s propane assets in 12 markets, including Golden and Castlegar.

The Bureau has also ordered Superior to waive contract terms preventing Canwest customers from switching suppliers in areas including Invermere, Golden, and Cranbrook.

“I am very glad to see this positive outcome for Kootenay-Columbia consumers,” Stetski said. “We must maintain competitive prices for rural residents’ fuel needs, and this decision confirms that.”

“Propane is a necessary energy source to many Canadian households and businesses,” wrote Matthew Boswell, Senior Deputy Commissioner, Mergers and Monopolistic Practices Branch in a news release. “Our review of the proposed merger concluded that Superior’s acquisition of Canwest would likely have resulted in consumers paying higher prices for propane in western Canada, northern Ontario and the Northwest Territories. We are pleased that the Bureau was able to work together with Superior and Canwest to find a solution that addresses our concerns.”