(Photo by Jeff Miller @rockybeach67/Twitter)

Residents on Vancouver Island can expect an increase in their natural gas bills starting January 1st, 2019.

According to a statement from FortisBC, the company has received approval from the British Columbia Utilities Commission (BCUC) on its interim rates for customers.

Based on an average annual usage of 90 gigajoules (GJ), residential customers on Vancouver Island and the mainland will see an approximate 9% or $68 annual increase in the new year.

The price spike is a result of the Enbridge pipeline rupture which took place in October 2018.

“We strive to deliver natural gas safely and reliably at the lowest reasonable cost,” said Diane Roy, vice-president of Regulatory Affairs, FortisBC.

“Keeping natural gas rates low for customers is important to us but there has been an impact to our costs associated with actions we had to take to stabilize our natural gas supply following the Enbridge pipeline rupture.”

The company’s statement reiterates that these rate adjustments are interim, and are subject to rate changes upon review by BCUC.

Permanent rate decisions are expected to be reached in the first quarter of 2019, and may result in further changes in pricing.