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The AUC enforces Alberta’s Fair, Efficient and Open Competition Regulation and the Electric Utilities Act, has powers to levy significant financial penalties – including a disgorgement of funds that were gained through a contravention, and the costs of the proceeding. Specifically, the AUC may impose:
The AUC has imposed penalties for breaches of Alberta’s electricity market rules, including in a single case administrative penalties of almost $52 million in addition to millions of dollars for Market Surveillance Administrator investigation costs.
In June of 2018, amendments to 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, along with rates, and facilities and landowner complaints.
The AUC has a comprehensive, flexible dispute resolution and compliance process which contributes to a broader organizational goal of increasing efficiency and limiting regulatory burden. This process allows the AUC to produce a high volume of decisions in a timely manner.
The AUC issues enforcement reports twice per year that summarize results of the AUC’s compliance and enforcement activities under a number of categories. These reports provide a transparent look at the organizations involved in these contraventions, the specific type of contravention (e.g. incorrect bill, disconnection in error) and the bottom-line enforcement outcome of these specified penalty investigations.
Specified penalties are just 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 standards set out for them. Some people have compared specified penalties to receiving a speeding ticket or a similar infraction and penalty where, depending on the seriousness of the violation, the penalty is higher or escalates.
The AUC intends to issue an enforcement report twice per year.