The Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) issues a decision at the end of each regulatory proceeding. A decision takes into consideration all information from the application and hearing process. The result is approval or denial of the application in full, in part, or with conditions.
The following decision summaries are provided by the Office of the Utilities Consumer Advocate (UCA) and are intended to provide a general overview of more significant proceedings. The Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) publishes the full reports and official decisions for all proceedings on its website.
AUC Decision 21508-D01-2017, December 13, 2017
On September 15, 2016, ENMAX Power Corporation (ENMAX) applied to the Commission for approval of its 2015-2017 Capital Tracker Application. Alberta distribution utilities, including ENMAX, are under a performance-based regulation (PBR) scheme that establishes initial utility revenue requirements for these utilities with an annual adjustment. Under the PBR scheme, the utilities are provided with additional funding for eligible projects outside of the approved revenue requirements through a capital tracker mechanism.
In its application, ENMAX sought an approval of a total capital tracker amount approximately $50.9 million for its 2015 to 2017 PBR period. On July 25, 2017, ENMAX received an approval from the AUC to commence a negotiated settlement process with intervenors in the proceeding. Through the negotiated process, conducted in a fair manner, all parties agreed to reduce ENMAX capital tracker amounts for 2015 and 2016 on an actual basis, and on a forecast basis for 2017. Consequently, ENMAX filed a negotiated settlement agreement for the AUC’s approval on August 28, 2017.
The AUC approved the negotiated settlement agreement through Decision 21508-D01-2017 released on December 13, 2017. The negotiated settlement agreement reduced ENMAX’s capital tracker amount by $11.01 million for the 2015-2017 PBR period. The AUC directed ENMAX to file a 2017 capital tracker true-up application in 2018.
AUC Decision 22238-D01-2017, December 4, 2017
On December 9, 2016, ENMAX Power Corporation (ENMAX) filed with the Commission its 2016-2017 Transmission General Tariff Application. In the application, ENMAX requested approval of its 2016 and 2017 transmission Revenue Requirement of approximately $75 million and $82 million respectively. These transmission revenue requirements represent the amounts to be paid for the use of ENMAX’s transmission facilities for 2016 and 2017. Additionally, ENMAX requested approval of its forecast capital expenditures of $42.4 million for 2016 and $63.4 million for 2017, and capital additions of $23.9 million for 2016 and $63.4 million for 2017.
Following an open and public process, the AUC, the UCA, and other intervenors identified a number of issues with the application. Accordingly, the AUC directed ENMAX to make several changes to the application and refile the application by January 8, 2016.
AUC Decision 22091-D01-2017, November 9, 2017
In June of 2016, the Farmers’ Advocate Office (FAO) received complaints from rural property owners regarding EPCOR Energy Alberta Inc., (EPCOR) attempts to collect payment from the rural property owners for electrical services provided to abandoned oil and gas wells operating on their rural properties. The UCA and FAO raised the issue with the Commission, including the need to revise the terms and conditions (T&Cs) of the Service Providers, which at the time allowed a rural property owner to be held liable for such electrical charges. On October 20, 2016, the Commission initiated proceeding 22091 to review the T&Cs of EPCOR and Direct Energy Regulated Services and on January 9, 2017, added ATCO and Fortis to the proceeding after it became aware of similar complaints.
Through an open process, the Commission determined that it would first deal with the issue of whether it has the jurisdiction to order refunds to affected rural property owners before approval of the revised T&Cs of the Service Providers. The UCA and FAO successfully argued that the Commission has the jurisdiction to order the refunds. In its ruling of July 5, 2017, the Commission held that it has the authority to order refunds and ordered the Service Providers to issue refunds to the affected rural property owners. Additionally, the Commission stated that it will consider, upon request by the customer, the refund of any additional costs such as legal fees and disbursement incurred as a result of the improper billing.
The Commission approved the revised sections of the Service Providers’ T&Cs in Decision 22091-D01-2017. Effective December 1, 2017, rural property owners will not be held liable for electrical charges related to abandoned oil and gas operation on the rural property provided the rural owner did not request the service or receive benefits from the continuation of the service.
AUC Decision 21341-D01-2017, August 30, 2017
On February 16, 2016, AltaLink Management Ltd. (AML) filed its 2017-2018 general tariff application with the AUC, to set its revenue requirements over a two-year term. This would result in a transmission tariff of $853.2 million in 2017 (less a refund from an account containing accumulated future income tax liability) and $989.5 million in 2018. On September 8, 2016, AML received approval from the AUC to conduct a negotiated settlement process with the intervenors in this proceeding.
Through the negotiated process, conducted in a fair and open manner, all parties agreed to reduce AML’s revenue requirements and refund a portion of a depreciation amount that was previously collected from customers. A negotiated settlement agreement was filed with the AUC for approval on February 8, 2017. As the amount of the depreciation surplus refund was not agreed to by all parties their comments on this issue were filed with the AUC along with the negotiated settlement agreement.
The AUC approved the negotiated settlement agreement on August 31, 2017. The NSA provides a reduction in AML’s revenue requirements by $15.5 million over 2017-2018, with the potential for any additional cost savings to be shared with customers on a 50/50 basis. AML will reduce spending in areas of transmission capital maintenance and information technology by $40 million, and provide a $2.5 million offset to revenue requirements. The AUC also determined, after reviewing comments and asking for additional information, that $31.4 million of the depreciation surplus is to be refunded to customers over the two-year term.
AUC Decision 22011-D01-2017, August 29, 2017
ATCO Pipelines (AP) applied to the AUC for approval of its 2017-2018 general rate application. AP requested approval of its Revenue Requirements totalling approximately $271.8 million and $293.4 million for 2017 and 2018, respectively. Through an open and public process, the AUC, the UCA and others identified a number of issues with the application. The AUC directed AP to make several changes to the application.
AP is required to refile its reduced revenue requirements with the AUC by October 11, 2017 for 2017 and 2018 respectively based on the AUC’s directions in Decision 22011-D01-2017. The changes in AP’s revenue requirements for 2017 and 2018 are summarized in the table below:
Change in AP's Revenue Requirements (millions)
Revenue Requirement Proposed in Original Application
Revenue Requirement Proposed to comply with AUC decision
AUC Decision 22054-D01-2017, April 12, 2017
On October 7, 2016, ENMAX Energy Corporation (ENMAX) applied for approval to amend its regulated rate option (RRO) tariff terms and conditions of services (T&Cs), effective January 1, 2017. Following an open and public process, the AUC Commission approved some changes to the T&Cs including having the owner of a property be responsible for bills in the event of a tenant default. ENMAX is now allowed to contact customers via email, text message and telephone and can make a report to a credit agency in the case of a tenant default, provided it gives notice to the defaulting tenant prior to making a report to a credit agency.
Decision 20414-D01-2016, December 16, 2016
On May 8, 2015, the Commission initiated proceeding 20414 to establish a five-year rate setting plan, called “Performance Based Regulation” (PBR) for all six of Alberta’s distribution utilities: ATCO Electric Ltd (distribution), ENMAX Power Corporation (distribution), EPCOR Distribution & Transmission Inc., (distribution), FortisAlberta Inc., AltaGas Utilities Inc., and ATCO Gas & Pipelines Ltd. This is the PBR second term for distribution utility plans in Alberta. The first term was in place from 2013 to 2017.
A PBR plan is a formula-based framework that establishes initial utility revenue requirements. A mechanism is used to adjust rates for each year of the plan using an inflation factor less a productivity factor, which the AUC set at 0.3% for the next term, to reflect productivity improvements that the utilities are expected to achieve. A major goal of PBR is to create stronger incentives for companies to achieve efficiency gains as they are allowed to retain increased profits generated by cost reductions while utility customers are provided benefits through a mechanism that adjusts rates throughout the term regardless of a utility’s actual performance for each year of the plan.
Transmission Facilities Cost Monitoring Committee
The Transmission Facilities Cost Monitoring Committee (TFCMC) was established by the Minister of Energy in July 2010 and is responsible for reviewing records related to cost, scope, schedule and variances of Alberta transmission facility projects that are forecast to cost in excess of $100 million.
The TFCMC has 13 members representing the following:
The Committee releases reports semi-annually:
- Terms of Reference
- Review of Cost Status of Major Transmission Projects in Alberta - December 2016
- Review of Cost Status of Major Transmission Projects in Alberta - June 2016
- Review of Cost Status of Major Transmission Projects in Alberta - December 2015
- Review of Cost Status of Major Transmission Projects in Alberta - June 2015
- Review of Cost Status of Major Transmission Projects in Alberta - December 2014
- Review of Cost Status of Major Transmission Projects in Alberta - June 2014
- Review of Cost Status of Major Transmission Projects in Alberta - December 2013
- Review of Cost Status of Major Transmission Projects in Alberta - June 2013
- Review of Cost Status of Major Transmission Projects in Alberta - December 2012
- Review of Cost Status of Major Transmission Projects in Alberta - June 2012
- Transmission Cost Recovery Subcommittee Report - June 2012
- Review of Cost Status of Major Transmission Projects in Alberta - December 2011
- Review of Cost Status of Major Transmission Projects in Alberta - June 2011