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A trusted leader that delivers innovative and efficient regulatory solutions for Alberta
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Electric, gas, water utilities and renewable power generation
Stories of innovative regulatory solutions for Albertans and happenings at the AUC
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.
The AUC’s annual business plans since 2008 have consistently committed it to initiatives that improve process efficiency and enhance our regulatory approaches. The AUC’s current three-year strategic plan includes efficiency as a major theme, with input from senior utility-sector executives ensuring industry priorities are reflected in AUC initiatives and its day-to-day operational plan. The government’s red tape reduction efforts are also strongly incorporated.
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.
Listening directly to where stakeholders think the AUC should focus attention on reducing regulatory burden is critical to the AUC. Over the course of three roundtables in late 2019, the AUC took immediate action. It became clear that the number one priority for AUC stakeholders is improvements in the AUC process in determining major rate cases.
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 number one 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 rates processes 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.