In rate applications the Commission considers applications from natural gas and electric utilities for approval of their future operating and capital costs. Once approved, these costs are recovered through the rates charged to their respective customers in their approved tariffs.
All applications filed with the Commission are managed and processed through the AUC's eFiling System, a web-based electronic tool where users can access the application and all related documents in addition to uploading their own documents. Interested parties must create an eFiling System account to gain access. Anyone can create an account with a user name and password.
Applications are filed with the Commission electronically through the eFiling System, which assigns a proceeding number. In some cases, more than one application is filed and considered in the same proceeding.
The Commission issues a filing announcement containing a brief description of the nature of the application. Anyone can opt to be notified by email of applications filed with the Commission though the global notification settings in the eFiling System.
The application and all associated documents can be found using the proceeding number in the eFiling System. If you do not have the proceeding number, you can also filter the results by applicant or search using other known details about the application.
The Commission issues a notice including information describing the application and instructions on how to participate (intervene) in the proceeding. Anyone who wishes to participate and have your say about utility rates must submit a statement of intent to participate to the Commission through the eFiling System by the date stated in the notice.
Rates proceedings are generally complex and require specialized technical knowledge. The Utilities Consumer Advocate (UCA) was established by the provincial government to represent Alberta residential, farm and small commercial utility customers in regulatory rate hearings. The collaboration made possible by the UCA helps to reduce duplication of intervener efforts and regulatory hearing costs. Because the costs of regulatory proceedings, including all approved legal and consulting fees for interveners, end up in consumers’ utility rates, the AUC recommends concerned consumers contact the UCA who can act as an intervener in rate proceedings on your behalf. For those who would like to participate and for those who are not represented by the UCA full details about the cost claim process for eligible interveners involved in rate proceedings are found in Rule 022.
A person (or a group of persons) who is interested in participating in a proceeding may file a written statement of intent to participate. The statement must contain a brief description of your interest in the proceeding and an explanation of your position, including information in support of your position.
The Commission may determine eligibility to participate in a proceeding pursuant to Section 11 of Rule 001: Rules of Practice.
Unless the Commission does not permit a person to participate, a person who has registered to participate in a proceeding is considered to be a party to the proceeding and is referred to as an intervener.
Information is exchanged between the applicant, interveners and the AUC, through the use of information requests (IRs) and responses. The information requests and responses are documents shared, filed and marked as exhibits and may be referred to throughout the review process.
All information filed in the process is considered to be on the public record unless a specific request is made to the AUC to make certain information confidential.
Interveners may be given the opportunity to file their own evidence regarding the application. This is an opportunity for interveners to potentially present an alternative position to the matter that is being dealt with in the application. The Commission, the applicant and all other registered interveners have an opportunity to examine the intervener evidence through information requests.
In the event that intervener evidence is filed, the applicant has the opportunity to file evidence to rebut the intervener evidence. The rebuttal evidence is also subject to examination.
The Commission may direct an oral hearing be held to further examine the application and evidence filed on the record of the proceeding.
Subject to any confidentiality rulings, all oral hearings are open to the public. As well, the public can listen to hearings online through the Commission’s website.
At the hearing, the Commission, the applicant and all other registered interveners are given an opportunity to ask the witnesses questions. Witnesses will appear in predetermined order of appearance on behalf of the applicant and on behalf of each intervener, regarding their evidence. A transcript of the testimony is prepared by a court reporter.
Commission hearings can last anywhere from a day to several weeks depending on the nature of the application and the complexity of the issues.
Please visit what happens at a hearing for more information.
Once all of the evidence has been submitted, the parties are given an opportunity to submit argument and reply argument to the Commission. Argument is not evidence.
Typically, argument is provided in written form but it can also be provided orally. The argument is the opportunity for the applicant and all interveners to provide their final submissions regarding the application and will include each party’s recommendations on how it considers certain matters should be resolved by the Commission. Argument can only address matters that have been covered in the proceeding. New matters cannot be introduced at this phase of the process.
Reply argument is the opportunity to respond to the initial argument of other parties. Only those issues covered in the initial argument can be addressed in reply argument.
The Commission reviews all of the evidence to arrive at an informed decision.
Any information and material provided as part of a proceeding, except information granted confidential treatment, provided through a Commission order, will become part of the public record and will be available through the eFiling System.
The Commission’s written decision is generally issued no more than 90 days after the close of the record (generally when reply arguments are received).
In its decision, the Commission may require an applicant to comply with certain directions. For example, the Commission may direct the applicant to file a compliance application in order to demonstrate its compliance with the directions issued.
During the course of an application process, the applicant and interveners sometimes request approval from the Commission to negotiate a settlement on all or some of the matters related to the application.
The Commission may grant approval to the applicant and interveners to attempt to reach a settlement agreement and will also establish timelines for completion of the settlement negotiations.
If an agreement is reached between the parties (settlement agreement), the parties must submit the settlement agreement to the Commission for approval.
The Commission will issue a written decision either approving or rejecting the settlement agreement. If the settlement agreement is not approved, the Commission will continue to review the application in accordance with the above process.
The applicant and interveners may file an application with the Commission to recover their costs of participation in the proceeding (costs claim application). The deadline to file a costs claim application is 30 days after the close of record. The Commission will issue its decision on the costs claim application within 60 to 90 days of the close of record of the costs proceeding.
Recovery of costs is governed by Rule 022: Rules on Intervener Costs in Utility Rate Proceedings. Only eligible interveners pursuant to Section 3 of Rule 022 are entitled to receive costs. Appendix A of Rule 022 sets out the types of costs for which eligible parties may seek recovery (i.e. legal fees and personal disbursements associated with attending an oral hearing) and a scale of costs (i.e. maximum allowable hourly rates that may be recovered).
An applicant or an intervener may request the Commission review its decision within 60 days, from the date the decision is issued, as specified in Rule 016: Review of Commission Decisions.
An applicant or an intervener may also file a motion for permission to appeal the Commission decision in the Court of Appeal of Alberta. This application must be filed within 30 days from the date the decision is issued.