Electricity System Improvements, from the Retail Market Review Committee

The Retail Market Review Committee 2012 - 2014
Implementation Team recommended action on two of the three items it committed to (after the passing of Bill 201):

  • Clarifying that the Local Access Fee on customers’ bills is set and collected by municipalities (March 2015); and
  • Merging the electricity and natural gas codes of conduct to remove duplicate and cumbersome processes for companies that offer both natural gas and electricity. Additionally, retail advertising material can no longer be inserted into the billing envelopes of customers who are on the default rate.  This will establish a level playing field for all retailers. (March 2015)
  • The Alberta Utilities Commission was also tasked with changing the name of the Regulated Rate Option to reflect that it is a default rate, not a government-set regulated rate.

In addition, retail advertising material is no longer allowed to be inserted in the billing envelopes of default rate customers.

    Retail market enhancement recommendations from the RMRC

The Alberta government took actions to protect electricity consumers by increasing scrutiny of transmission costs, reducing volatility in month-to-month electricity prices and making it easier for consumers to exercise better retail choices.

The Retail Market Review Committee (RMRC) report and highlightsexternal link icon made 41 recommendations to strengthen the electricity market. (January 2013) Government acted immediately on two recommendations, approving 33 more in principle and rejecting six.

The recommendations accepted in principle focused on increasing competitiveness in the market, providing greater information to consumers, protecting vulnerable Albertans and representing consumer interests. The MLA implementation team was tasked with how best to implement these recommendations.

MLA RMRC Implementation Team, Terms of Reference, revised March, 2014
Background
The Government of Alberta approved in principle 33 of the recommendations from the Retail Market Review Committee (RMRC) report, Power for the People. These recommendations have been referred to an MLA team to ensure that the public interest is considered when developing the implementation plan.
Vision
The MLA RMRC Implementation Team will make recommendations to the Minister of Energy regarding the timely and appropriate implementation of the RMRC recommendations.
Membership

  • Everett McDonald – Chair (MLA Grande Prairie – Smoky)
  • Ron Casey (MLA Banff – Cochrane)
  • Matt Jeneroux (MLA Edmonton – South West)
  • Maureen Kubinec (MLA Barrhead – Morinville – Westlock)
  • Cathy Olesen (MLA Sherwood Park)

Roles Reporting the Minister of Energy, The MLA team will consult with consumer groups, industry, agencies, Rural Electrification Associations and other stakeholders to develop a plan to implement the RMRC’s recommendations. If necessary, the team may seek further study and advice from experts to support the implementation.
Support
The MLA team will be supported by department staff from Alberta Energy.
Objectives

  • Provide advice and support to the Minister of Energy regarding decisions required to implement the 33 recommendations by identifying issues, finding solutions and actions that will assist in implementation.
  • Serve as a champion for these recommendations internally and externally.
  • Evaluate the implementation plan (every six months) with the Minister of Energy and department executives to reflect the evolution of implementation. The plan may be revised as necessary.

Deliverables

  • Overall implementation plan;
  • Six month progress reports to the Minister of Energy; and,
  • Implementation guidance plan for all recommendations.

Duration
The MLA team will provide a progress report to the Minister of Energy 6 months after their start date, May 1, 2013, and deliver a final report with advice on full implementation of the recommendations within

The MLA-RMRC Implementation Team’s report, Enhancing the Retail Market for Electricityexternal link icon , was released on December 18, 2014.

The RMRC also recommended lifting the freeze on applications for new distribution charges put in place at the request of government in 2012, and government has asked the AUC to lift the freeze. Applications will need to go through the AUC process to ensure any distribution costs charged to consumers are reasonable and levied fairly.