Maurice Rodgerson, chairman of the Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission, speaks with Rotarians on Tuesday. Colin MacLean/Journal Pioneer
SUMMERSIDE – It’s been about a month since the provincial minister stood up in the Legislature and stated that the Island Regulator and Appeals Commission (IRAC) could be doing a better job of explaining how it regulates fuel prices on the Island.
Education Minister Alan McIsaac, whose department is responsible for IRAC, made the comments in response to criticism regarding high gasoline and home heating oil prices on P.E.I. comparative to other province.
McIsaac said that if IRAC explained its processes better people might be more willing to accept its decisions.
Maurice Rodgerson, chairman of IRAC, has been taking steps to take the minister’s advice.
So is it working?
For some people? Yes. For many more? Probably not, said Rodgerson on Tuesday.
“There’s probably more understanding that it is a complicated process,” he surmised during a talk to the Rotary Club of Summerside.
Some people like having a lot of information about the process and take the time to understand why fuel prices change the way they do, but it is not an easy subject to understand; and it doesn’t matter a whole lot to people who can’t afford to buy the product, he added.
“We do have a lot of people who are very concerned about the price – and the explanation doesn’t necessarily help them accept that the price is too high.
“So while they may appreciate the explanation, it doesn’t help them in terms of getting a lower price,” he said.
Anyone who is interested in getting a detailed explanation of fuel price changes can visit www.irac.ca and check out the “current news and notices” section of the website.
As of its Dec. 1 release on fuel prices, IRAC has started to provide more information regarding why it increases or decreases the prices.
In that release, IRAC cited a variety of factors, chief among them an increase of Brent crude prices, for pushing up local prices. Other factors included a reduced processing capacity at the two refineries in the Atlantic provinces, due to maintenance.
In order to determine gasoline pricing changes, IRAC uses the Brent Crude price of New York Harbour as a baseline amount.
Because the price of oil on the open market changes every few seconds, IRAC takes the average over the course of the roughly 15 days since the last change in prices and uses that as a base.
Added to this average are various other factors, such as provincial and federal taxes, transportation costs, fuel additives and more.