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What is involved in reviewing power generation facilities in Alberta
Established process to review applications
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Ensuring regulated utilities comply with AUC decisions, orders, rules and relevant legislation
The Alberta Utilities Commission ensures regulated utilities comply with its decisions, orders and rules, and with the relevant Alberta legislation and regulations.
In its compliance functions and responsibilities, the AUC has both an investigation and enforcement role, which for convenience is divided here into these six main areas:
The AUC enforces and administers legislation, regulations and AUC rules designed to ensure Alberta’s natural gas pipelines are operated in a safe and secure manner.
The AUC licences and rate-regulates high-pressure gas utility pipelines, scrutinizes integrity management and emergency response plans, and oversees pipeline inspections and incident investigations that are delegated by the AUC to the Alberta Energy Regulator under a memorandum of understanding.
Low-pressure distribution pipelines have shared oversight between the AUC and the Rural Utilities section of Alberta Agriculture. The AUC rate-regulates low-pressure distribution pipelines and has broad investigative and complaint resolution responsibilities, while Rural Utilities has responsibilities respecting technical standards and operations.
The AUC does not oversee oil and gas production pipelines or pipelines that cross provincial borders.
The AUC adjudicates allegations of market wrongdoings in Alberta’s wholesale electricity market to ensure it functions properly and that energy trading is conducted in a fair, efficient and competitive manner. The Alberta Market Surveillance Administrator monitors the market and brings allegations of market wrong-doing to the AUC, where they are dealt with in an evidence-based, open and quasi-judicial manner, and where significant penalties can be levied.
The AUC also issues specified penalties related to investigations and enforcement activities around terms and conditions of service standards, about rates, and regarding utility facilities and landowner complaints.
Development of Alberta electricity and natural gas utility infrastructure is subject to the province’s environmental laws and regulations including guidance from Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP), and individual projects are often subject to specific conditions of approval from the Alberta Utilities Commission.
These approval conditions are often determined through public involvement and consultation, which is a key element of the AUC’s review process. Breaches of AUC and AEP requirements are subject to Alberta Utilities Commission investigation, and when warranted, enforcement actions.
The AUC ensures landowners are listened to and respected as utilities plan, construct and operate infrastructure. Any enhancements, additions or decommissioning of utility infrastructure such as transmission lines or power plants must be approved by the AUC. Affected landowners (and others with rights to use the land) have a right to participate in proceedings regarding the development of utility infrastructure, including generation development, that may have an impact on them or their land.
The AUC can and often does impose conditions on development on such things as land access and notice, livestock protection, weed control, the time of year heavy equipment may be used, etc. When warranted, the AUC will investigate non-compliance with its decisions, and order corrective action if necessary.
Based on applications and evidence, the AUC determines rates for utility distribution companies, for electricity and consumer natural gas transmission, and for some water utilities. (The AUC does not determine rates or conditions of service from retailers offering fixed pricing for fixed terms for electricity or natural gas (contracts).
The AUC’s goal is to ensure rates are just and reasonable, while providing a reasonable opportunity for utility owners to earn a fair return on their investment. When utilities apply for rates, the AUC oversees an open and transparent process that evaluates submitted evidence that is tested and considered by consumer groups, industry groups and other interest groups to set rates and terms and conditions of service. The AUC can investigate whether rates are being charged unfairly or incorrectly, or when terms and conditions of service are not being applied correctly.
If you have a billing issue or a concern about the terms and conditions of your utility service, you should contact your utility company first to try to resolve the issue. If you are unable to get resolution, the Utilities Consumer Advocate can work with you to advocate and mediate on your behalf. If you have further questions you can also contact the AUC at 310-4AUC (310-4282) or email@example.com.
In addition, if you have agreed to a retail contract for your service, the AUC is not involved in rate determination or terms of service for these contracts.