Electricity customers will soon have greater clarity and transparency in their bills, while benefiting from a more competitive retail marketplace.
Based on the advice of an MLA team, and the passing of Bill 201, government will take action in three key areas:
- Clarifying that the Local Access Fee on customers’ bills is set and collected by municipalities;
- Changing the name of the Regulated Rate Option to reflect that it is a default rate, not a government-set regulated rate; and
- Merging the electricity and natural gas codes of conduct to remove duplicate and cumbersome processes for companies that offer both natural gas and electricity.
In addition, retail advertising material can no longer be inserted in the billing envelopes of customers who are on the default rate. This will establish a more level playing field for all retailers.
“Our goal is to increase competition, clarity and consumer choice. We must continue to build on our strong, competitive electricity market to make it even better for Albertans.”
~ Frank Oberle, Minister of Energy
These changes will be implemented over the next year, and build upon previous work done to improve Alberta’s electricity market. In 2012, a Retail Market Review Committee provided recommendations, some of which were acted upon immediately. A group of MLAs – the MLA Retail Market Review Committee Implementation Team – has also provided advice on how to implement remaining recommendations over the next two years.
“The MLA team consulted with consumers, industry and agencies across the province. Throughout this process we kept our focus on the needs of Albertans – helping those who are vulnerable and ensuring consumers have the information and support they need when making a choice on buying their electricity.
~ Everett McDonald, Chair, MLA Retail Market Review Committee Implementation Team
“The Alberta Urban Municipalities Association is pleased with the government’s decision to list the name of the municipality beside the Local Access Fee line item on consumers’ electricity bills. We believe our members will welcome the transparency this brings and we trust it will help consumers better understand their electricity bills.
~ Helen Rice, President, Alberta Urban Municipalities Association
Some of the Retail Market Review Committee’s recommendations that are already being implemented include:
- Aligning and enhancing utility-related supports for vulnerable Albertans;
- Developing a website and a consumer education campaign focusing on electricity and natural gas; and
- Lowering the security deposit collected by electricity retailers to align with security deposits collected by natural gas retailers.
The MLA Retail Market Review Committee Implementation Team’s report, Enhancing the Retail Market for Electricity, was also released today. It outlines the extensive consultation work done by the MLA team and its resulting recommendations. Government will continue to examine the remaining recommendations for future implementation, which will include further consultation with stakeholders.