The British Columbia Utilities Commission will launch an investigation into why gas prices on Vancouver Island and in Metro Vancouver are so much higher than the rest of the country.

In a letter to Premier John Horgan released Wednesday, the utilities commission chair and CEO David Morton said his office would conduct “a fair, transparent and inclusive process to identify the factors impacting the price of gasoline in our province.”

The letter came in response to Horgan’s request Tuesday that the BCUC examine why gas prices in parts of the province are hovering around $1.70 per litre while customers in Alberta and elsewhere are paying as much as 50 cents less.

Horgan told reporters that he spoke with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday and brought up his concerns, making it clear that high B.C. gas prices were of national importance.

Horgan's request to the utilities commission on Tuesday asked that it explore why prices have shot up by 40 cents a litre in the last few months.

“Across the province, but particular in Metro Vancouver and on Vancouver Island, people are alarmed at the rapid increase in the price at the pumps,” Horgan wrote.

“In March 2019, refining margins for Vancouver were more than double the Canadian average and higher than any other major city in North America. This suggests that the producers are realizing a significant additional profit margin for fuel sold in Metro Vancouver compared with other jurisdictions.”

The utilities commission regulates electricity and natural gas prices in the province.

Last week, the left-leaning research institute the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives suggested that gasoline should also be regulated, similar to policies in the Maritimes.

Horgan was cool on the idea. He said he didn't believe that B.C. would have more success with regulation.

He has said part of the problem comes from a low supply and high demand.