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The AUC actively enforces its decisions, orders, rules, utility-related legislation and regulations to ensure compliance by utilities. In June of 2018, the Alberta Utilities Commission Act granted the AUC authority to issue specified penalties. Investigations and enforcement activities are now carried out related to terms and conditions of service standards, and rates, and facilities and landowner complaints.
The AUC has a comprehensive, flexible dispute resolution and compliance process which contributes to a broader goal of increasing efficiency and limiting regulatory burden. This process allows the AUC to produce a high volume of decisions in a timely manner. From April to December of 2019, the AUC completed 157 investigations.
The April to December 2019 Enforcement Report summarizes results of the AUC’s compliance and enforcement activities in 2019 under a number of categories. As one example, of the 157 investigations noted above, 137 were related to specified penalty matters under service standards. The 2019 report provides a transparent look at the organizations involved in these, the specific type of contravention (e.g. incorrect bill, disconnection in error) and the bottom-line enforcement outcome of these specified penalty investigations (64 penalties issued).
Specified penalties are one tool the AUC uses to ensure utility customers in Alberta are treated fairly and that utilities respect the rules in place to protect both consumers and businesses. These penalties are a series of set fines that are applied when the AUC concludes that contraventions have occurred, with penalties increasing with the frequency of the contravention.
Specified penalties streamline and clarify what happens if utilities do not meet the required standards set out for them. Some people have compared specified penalties to receiving a ticket from the police for speeding or a similar infraction, where depending on the frequency of violation, the penalty is higher or escalates.
The Commission intends to issue an enforcement report twice per year.