Protecting Electricity Consumers

The Alberta government is taking 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.

 Energy Minister Ken Hughes announced increased protection for electricity consumers on January 29, 2013.

The Retail Market Review Committeeexternal link icon made recommendations to strengthen the electricity market. The report was released in January 2013 with 41 recommendations. Thirty-three recommendations were accepted in principle and referred to an MLA implementation team. The team will work with consumers, industry, regulators and others to ensure that we put effective, affordable and sensible solutions in place.

Everett McDonaldexternal link icon, MLA for Grande Prairie-Smoky will chair that team. Other members of the implementation team are Ron Casey, MLA for Banff-Cochrane, Matt Jeneroux, MLA for Edmonton-South West, Maureen Kubinec, MLA for Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock, Cathy Olesen, MLA for Sherwood Park and Len Webber, MLA for Calgary-Foothills.

The provincial government is:

Giving the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) greater authority to scrutinize costs associated with new power lines.

The government wants to ensure that Albertans are paying a fair price for new electricity transmission projects. The AUC will now receive more information and sooner in the process and transmission companies will have the burden of proof to justify costs if challenged by consumers. To further protect consumers, Minister Hughes is asking the AUC to determine the best process to amortize paying for transmission lines over the long term.

News Release Redford government tells power transmission companies to prove consumer costs are fairexternal link icon(July 26, 2013)Changes by the Redford government will protect consumers by bringing greater transparency to electricity costs. Under new regulations, the onus is now on electricity transmission companies to prove the cost of transmission lines is reasonable. Under the old regulations, it was up to consumer groups to challenge the cost —a cost that is ultimately passed on to Albertans.
“We have taken action to ensure that Albertans aren’t on the hook for unjustified costs associated with building transmission lines,” said Energy Minister Ken Hughes. “Transmission companies now must defend every cent they charge consumers. This brings more transparency and delivers on promises made following the retail market review.”

Fact sheets:

Keeping the regulated rate option (RRO) for Albertans

Right now, a majority of Albertans have chosen to stay on the RRO.  Recognizing the choice made by Alberta consumers, the government rejected all six recommendations made by the Retail Market Review Committee (RMRC) Report associated with eliminating the RRO.

Fact sheet: Reading your electricity billPDF icon Sample billPDF icon

Extending the regulated rate option (RRO) window from 45 to 120 days.

Previously, retail electricity providers could only purchase power 45 days in advance for the RRO. The province has extended that to 120 days to bring more stability and predictability in the marketplace.

Making the Utilities Consumer Advocate an independent agency

The Utilities Consumer Advocateexternal link icon (UCA) will become an independent agency with a strengthened mandate to advocate on behalf of Albertans.

    Retail Market Review Committee (RMRC) Report

Minister Hughes also released the RMRC Report.  The 391-page report has 41 recommendations.  Government is acting 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 focus on increasing competitiveness in the market, providing greater information to consumers, protecting vulnerable Albertans and representing consumer interests. The MLA implementation team will further consult with stakeholders and determine how best to implement these recommendations.

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.

Fact sheet:
RMRC RecommendationsPDF icon