The AUC is committed to efficient, streamlined processes and to reducing regulatory burden.
We pursue and promote efficiency ourselves and in the utilities we regulate.
The AUC operates on the basis that there is ample opportunity to do things better and to reduce regulatory burden. The issue of timeliness or regulatory lag in rates cases (proceedings in which utility rates are determined) is of primary importance. However, the AUC's commitment to improvement applies to all aspects of our work.
We are mindful that we serve the public interest. An important consideration of efficiency improvements in the regulation of monopoly electricity and natural gas infrastructure, and the adjudication of market cases is that efficiency must not come at the expense of stakeholder and investor confidence in a fair process, market integrity, or reliably independent and consistent regulation. All are critical to a properly functioning utilities sector.
This is a grassroots initiative that encourages staff to challenge the way operate and regulate by developing innovative ideas to improve or streamline processes and enhance efficiency. It simplifies and supports the way forward for staff at any level to implement good ideas following a rapid approval process. So far,
six projects have been approved and they may be found in the
monthly report to the Department of Energy.
Led by the AUC's vice-chair and its general counsel,
this highly placed group reviews active proceedings to ensure they stay on track. The group also serves as a forum for the exchange and development of ideas to make the Commission’s adjudicative work more efficient, timely, focused and productive.
Reflecting stakeholder's No. 1 priority, the AUC
established a third-party expert panel to provide independent recommendations on how the AUC can improve and implement changes to make its
more streamlined and timely.
Their report is complete and virtually all recommendations are being adopted.
The AUC monitors and reports to the Department of Energy the progress of efficiency initiatives
and the required one-third reduction in regulatory requirements on a monthly basis. This important reporting is overseen by the AUC's chief executive and its general counsel. The AUC received an
encouraging letter from Associate Minister of Natural Gas and Electricity Dale Nally and is moving forward with a series of initiatives to improve the efficiency of its processes and procedures, and reduce regulatory burden.
Alberta’s utilities are critical to industry in the province and to Albertans’ high quality of living.
Alberta’s utilities sector is a natural monopoly environment where privately owned utilities operate a network of wires and pipelines. They are profit driven while operating in exclusive service territories, and are not subject to competition. Recognizing the critical importance of utilities, part of the AUC’s public interest mandate is to ensure there is adequate regulatory oversight of Alberta's utilities and utilities sector in this monopoly environment.
The AUC works continually to reduce the level and impact of regulatory burden to what is required for ratepayers to receive safe and reliable utility service at just and reasonable rates – while allowing utility shareholders a reasonable opportunity to earn a fair return, and attract adequate investment.
The AUC works to adapt and modernize its regulatory practices to ensure its regulation is ready to meet the challenges of an evolving regulatory environment. The
AUC’s three-year strategic plan includes a major commitment to efficiency and reducing regulatory burden. This efficiency theme was developed, shaped and confirmed through stakeholder conversations. The consultation included executives at the most senior level within the utilities sector. Industry priorities were incorporated and are driving our specific activities for the next three years, as well as forming the basis to track and measure our success.
The AUC is sharpening its focus on streamlining its processes and reducing regulatory burden. The five principles of the Red Tape Reduction Act are incorporated within the AUC’s plan for efficient, innovative regulation. The AUC is pleased its detailed, results-driven efficiency and red tape reduction efforts are part of the government’s plan to support jobs and boost productivity.
The AUC's actions are guided by three key principles. First, that our regulation should be
light-handed where possible and more principles-based to reduce reliance on prescriptive rules. Second, that our planning approach will integrate efficiency aspirations into our
strategic objectives and outcomes. Third, that we will continue to engage with stakeholders to explore
eliminating or streamlining processes and rules through continuous improvement and embracing a more risk-based approach.
Based on these three key principles, the AUC submits
an update on all its efficiency initiatives
each month to the Department of Energy. The report explains in detail every efficiency action we are taking, its status, and its impact or benefit.
Future annual report cards will also include an AUC Industry Impact Assessment which will include a broader assessment of the AUC's regulatory impact. The first such assessment was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic for one year.
For more than a decade we have worked within self-imposed performance standards, specific to both
rates application types, that set the number of days to complete the applications. These standards cover all stages of the application process.
We track and report our performance in meeting these standards.
The AUC does well for the most part, but industry has concerns about the need to streamline large and complex proceedings, and those devoted to rates in particular. Timeliness is a big priority going forward and
the AUC is expending considerable time and effort to improve service and efficiency.
The AUC has a demonstrated history of efficiency and cost accountability. The AUC does not receive any government funding. It is revenue neutral to the government of Alberta. The AUC Annual Report Card includes sections on:
Albertans have received consistently
increasing value for the cost of AUC regulation since 2008. Its cost per site count fell between 2008 and 2019 by 23.5 per cent. The cost per site, currently $10.05, is an overall figure, and is significantly lower when apportioned to Alberta’s residential customers.