The New Year is ushering in lower natural gas rates for Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast, and a cash infusion for local governments.

After years of negotiations between the province, the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities, and Fortis, the gas company is moving to common rates across BC.

Fortis’ Neal Pobran says gas users will notice a couple of things right away – the look of their bills and a 13 percent reduction.

Regional District of Nanaimo Chair Joe Stanhope was the AVICC’s point man in the negotiations. He says getting a “franchise fee” for municipalities is important.

The fee will bring in tens of thousands of dollars a year for smaller communities, and hundreds of thousands in bigger cities.