The gas is burned and from there comes the heat you need for your heating and hot water, or the flame for your kitchen. But the route from underground where the gas for your home is located is long and expensive. It must be removed, processed, stored and transported by pipeline, ship or tanker trucks.
To pay for what it costs to keep the large natural gas network channeled there are access rates that appear on your bill. If you are in the regulated gas market, this cost will be broken down (and will often be listed as ATR or Access of Third Parties to the Network). If you are in the free market, this cost will affect both your fixed term (power) and your consumption or variable term.
Wherever you live, whatever your gas company, whether you are in the free market or in the regulated market... the cost of these rates will always be the same and will always be decided by the Energy Ministry.
Gas access rates
We will only talk about low pressure natural gas (equal to or less than 4 bars), which are the ones used by households. For higher pressures there are other access rates.
By choosing your gas rate you have complete freedom. However, you cannot choose your access rate. One or the other will affect you according to how many kWh are consumed per year:
- Less than 5,000 kWh per year: access rate 3.1 is applicable. This level of consumption is usual in homes where there is no natural gas heating but there is hot water and/or gas for the kitchen. It is also practical in homes that use very little heating.
- Between 5,000 and 50,000 kWh per year: in these cases the access rate will be 3.2. The vast majority of homes with natural gas heating fall into this price range.
- Between 50,000 and 100,000 kWh per year: access rate 3.3 for high and infrequent household consumption (the average for a gas-heated household is around 10,000 kWh per year). For even higher consumption there are access rates of 3.4 and 3.5, but we are talking about figures that are out of reach for a domestic consumer.
Once a year, the gas distribution company will review whether the access rate applied corresponds to the level of consumption. If this is not the case, you will go on to change the access rate.
The consequences of changing access rates are clear and appear immediately on your bill: The fixed term (power) rate of 3.1 is much cheaper than that of rate 3.2, but in return the variable term (consumption) is more expensive in 3.1 than in 3.2.