The Current State of the Electricity Market

Calgary Elbow

Since the electricity market was deregulated in the early 2000s, the competitive market saw billions invested in new generating capacity, and billions more returned to Albertans in the form of rebates on our electricity bills ($4.4 billion from 2006 to 2015), all while enjoying some of the lowest electricity rates anywhere in Canada.

Unfortunately, all of this ended under the current government.

In simple terms, the government ignored the advice of industry experts and made changes that triggered the ability for electricity sellers to return their unprofitable contracts to the government.

This was their first mistake. Once the contracts were in the government’s hands (through a supposedly arms-length agency called the Balancing Pool), they had the option to cancel them to stem any financial losses. Instead, they sued the original contract owners, which extended the time the money-losing arrangements were in place.

In the end, the government’s changes turned a $700 million surplus into $910 million in debt. And that number continues to grow.

To add to the problems, the Balancing Pool was recently found to have broken the law in how they operated. As a professionally-run agency that has never had issues in the past, I can only conclude the Balancing Pool did this under extreme political pressure.

In spite of all of these issues you may not have noticed a big change in your electricity bill. That’s because the government has instituted a consumer rate cap. Any time electricity prices exceed 6.8 cents per kilowatt hour, all taxpayers subsidize the cost of electricity. This political trick is only necessary because of the government has made such a mess of the electricity file.

This is a complex issue, and the government has used that complexity to attempt to hide their misdeeds from the public. Rest assured that as your MLA I will continue to hold the government accountable in the Legislature on this issue and others.

As always, I want to hear from you. Contact my office at 403-252-0346 or [email protected].