Consumers can turn to the Internet today to find out second by second how much gas regulation is really costing them.

The Atlantic Institute for Market Studies has established a website that posts the cost of operating the gas price regulation system in all four Atlantic Canadian provinces.

The Money Guzzling Gas Regulation Gauge says Atlantic Canadians have paid more than $150-million extra for gasoline because of price regulation so far.

Bobby O’Keefe, research manager for the institute, said the website was established to educate consumers about the downside of regulation.

“Consumers may think they are saving money with gas regulation, but they actually aren’t,” O’Keefe said. “There are a number of reasons it costs more, but in New Brunswick, for example, a maximum price is set and stations will aim for that maximum price even if they can afford to sell gas at a lower price.”

On Sunday, the total cost of gas regulation for New Brunswick was listed at more than $9.4 million, according to the institute’s website.

O’Keefe said that’s the total cost of the system since it began in New Brunswick in 2006.

“New Brunswick is actually faring a little better than the other provinces when you consider that gas regulation was in place elsewhere for a lot longer,” O’Keefe said. “On Prince Edward Island, it came into effect in 1991.

“In Newfoundland and Labrador, it came into effect in October of 2001. Only Nova Scotia and New Brunswick began later in 2006.”

Kevin McCann, New Brunswick director of sales and business development for Wilson Fuel Co., said he likes the idea of a website for consumers. He said gas price regulation doesn’t work, and is more costly than some consumers realize.

“I think most consumers understand that regulation is not having a positive impact on pump prices and is just adding costs to the system,” McCann said. “But I’m not sure consumers realize just how much extra they are paying.

“The board of directors for this system costs over $1 million to run its office, for example, and that money has to come from somewhere. And it comes from the consumer in the form of taxes.”

McCann said he believes the government should walk away from the gas price regulation system and restore the province to regular free market prices. He said he believes the real cost for regulation is the reason none of the other provinces in Canada has used this system.

“Six of the other provinces, which make up 90 per cent of the population in Canada, are unregulated,” McCann said. “What does that tell you? In Atlantic Canada, for some reason, you got a bunch of government bureaucrats thinking they can control the pump prices in an industry they don’t know anything about.

“That’s the issue, and that’s why it’s costing Maritimers money.”

O’Keefe said the Money Guzzling Gas Regulation Gauge will be officially online at 8 a.m. today.