Electricity and You

(Electricity in Alberta - Illustration provided by AESO from Powering Albertans, Volume 1, Issue 2)

Some people believe...

Alberta’s electricity system changed from public to private ownership.

The fact is...

in Alberta, no part of the electricity system is owned or operated by the government. Our electricity system has always been a mixture of privately and municipally-owned facilities. The Alberta government establishes a framework that encourages investment, innovation, efficiency and competition in the market place.

Now the challenge is...

for the government and its partners to work together to ensure the marketplace is fair and transparent and that prices reflect current market conditions.

Some people believe...

the government has control over electricity supply.

The fact is...

the government sets the legislation and policies that industry and regulators must follow. Alberta's competitive electricity marketplace supports electricity generation from many different power sources. Private investors pay for additional generation projects – using no taxpayer dollars. Producers choose which type of fuel and technology will be used to provide electricity supply. All projects must be approved by the Alberta Utilities Commission.

Now the challenge is...

to balance the needs of consumers with the realities of a market-driven industry.

Some people believe...

the expansion of transmission lines is unnecessary and is intended to allow increased exports to the United States.

The fact is...

Alberta currently imports more electricity than it exports through interties, transmission lines that connect to neighbouring electric systems. Electricity cannot be stored – it must be used as soon as it is produced. The system must be in balance. Imports and exports help provide Albertans with the highest value for the electricity produced and consumed in the province.

Now the challenge is...

to ensure the transmission system has enough capacity to meet Alberta's growing need for electricity.

Some people wonder...

what the term "Regulated Rate Option (RRO)," also known as the "Default Rate," on their electrical bill means.

The fact is...

the RRO is the price for electricity paid by consumers who have not signed a contract with a retailer. Most households and many small businesses are eligible for the RRO. The RRO is based on supply and demand for electricity, so it can vary each month. A fixed-term contract with a retailer provides another choice for consumers.

Now the challenge is...

to provide consumers with the information and support they need to make good decisions about retail products and services offered.

Did You Know?

  • Alberta has about 21,000 kilometres of transmission lines that deliver electricity to homes, farms, businesses and industry.
  • Almost 90% of Alberta’s electricity capacity is generated with coal and natural gas. However, Alberta also uses water, wind and other renewables to generate electricity.
  • The demand for electricity in Alberta has grown at a rate about equal to adding two cities the size of Red Deer each year since 2001.

Successes and Innovations

  • Alberta leads the country in wind power generated electricity.
  • Alberta has the most technologically-advanced coal-fired power plant in Canada. New technology is reducing CO2 emissions from coal-powered generators.
  • The new micro-generation policy will allow individual Albertans who generate their own environmentally-friendly electricity to sell what they don’t use back to the grid. This gives Albertans more options when it comes to managing their electricity needs.

 Alberta’s Electricity System

Alberta's Electricity System is a network of generation facilities, transmission lines, retailers and regulators. It hums along so electricity is always there when you flick the switch. But our province is growing and we need more electricity. The Government of Alberta is working to ensure the entire electricity system continues to meet the province’s growing electricity needs.

For more information on Alberta’s electric system:

Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO) Phone: 1-888-866-2959 (toll free) Email: stakeholder.relations@aeso.ca Website: http://www.aeso.ca/  

Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) Phone: (780) 427-9362 Email: Info@auc.ab.ca  Website: http://www.auc.ab.ca/  

Utilities Consumer Advocate (UCA) Phone: In Alberta, dial 310-4-UCA (310-4822) Email: UCAhelps@gov.ab.ca  Website: http://www.ucahelps.gov.ab.ca/  

Generation

Producing Electricity for a Growing Province

Alberta’s electric system is based on competition, conservation and innovation.

Since 1998, new generation of over 4,700 megawatts has been added to the Alberta power supply, helping to meet our growing demand. The estimated cost to add this amount of power to the grid was $5 billion. This new generation has been added to the system without spending taxpayer dollars.

The Alberta Utilities Commission is the regulatory body that considers proposed utility developments, including power plants and transmission facilities, and makes decisions in terms of factors such as social and environmental effects. It also oversees the distribution and sale of electricity and natural gas to consumers.

Transmission

Delivering Power to Albertans

Transmission lines are like roads, moving electricity to more than 1.2 million homes, farms and businesses throughout the province. The transmission system has not been significantly upgraded for decades and is near its capacity. If it is not expanded, Albertans could face disruptions in electricity service.

We need more transmission capacity now to meet increased demand by Albertans.

The Alberta Electric System Operator is a not-for-profit organization that, on behalf of Albertans, plans and manages the transmission system and operates the power pool where Alberta’s electricity is bought and sold. It is independent of industry and does not own or operate any power facilities.

Retail

Purchasing Electricity

Albertans can choose from among the retail electricity suppliers in their region. Consumers can also choose whether they want to pay the Regulated Rate Option or enter into a competitive fixed-rate contract.

In 2010, the new Regulated Rate Option paid by consumers who have not signed a fixed-rate contract will be based entirely on the upcoming month’s projected market price of electricity.

The Utilities Consumer Advocate works to ensure consumers have the information, representation and protection they need to make informed choices in Alberta’s restructured electricity and natural gas markets. It also represents residential, agricultural and small business interests at regulatory hearings. Albertans can learn more about their options for electricity service at http://www.ucahelps.gov.ab.ca/ or by calling 310-4-UCA (310-4822).

ISBN - 978-0-7785-6328-0 (web page)
ISBN - 978-0-7785-6327-3 (PDF foldable)
ISBN - 978-0-7785-6329-7 (PDF reading format)