Electricity System Improvements, from the Retail Market Review Committee
The MLA Retail Market Review Committee (MLA-RMRC) 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 (5 MB) Highlights made 41 recommendations to strengthen the electricity market. (January 2013) Thirty-three recommendations were accepted in principle and referred to an MLA implementation team (Terms of Reference ). The team worked with consumers, industry, regulators and others to ensure that sensible solutions were in place.
Government acted immediately on two recommendations, approving 33 more in principle and rejecting six. The recommendations accepted in principle will be referred to an MLA implementation team. 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.
The MLA-RMRC Implementation Team’s report, Enhancing the Retail Market for Electricity , was released on December 18, 2014. It outlined the extensive consultation work done by the MLA team and its resulting recommendations including an implementation plan.
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.