More on AESO-Ordered Blackouts Throughout Alberta

Further to our previous blog on the rolling blackouts ordered yesterday by the Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO), Opposition parties are asking some tough questions today of the Alberta P.C. Government and the AESO (CBC News).

Joe Anglin, the Wildrose Official Opposition Utilities Critic, says the rolling blackouts across the province seem suspicious, and that the Alberta Government needs to investigate why 6 power plants were turned off at the same time. “The odds of that happening are suspicious. They really are,” he said.

NDP MLA David Eggen says the rolling blackouts highlight the failure of the Conservative’s market-based model for electricity.

Both Anglin and Eggen asked for a report on whether there was any illegal manipulation of the system to jack up electricity prices, considering prices hit a whopping $1,000/MWh.

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Our readers may remember last November we reported on TransAlta being found guilty by the Market Surveillance Administrator (MSA) of manipulating electricity prices, artificially inflating prices for all provincial consumers while pocketing the profits. The MSA issued a fine to TransAlta of only $370,000, whereas the estimated actual cost of TransAlta’s infraction to consumers topped $5.5 million.

The infraction highlights the fundamental flaws in the Alberta market, including having the highest-cost electricity at the end of the hour setting the price for the entire hour. The Industrial Power Consumers Association of Alberta has said this is yet another glaring example of how Alberta’s “open market” fails to protect consumers and shows how toothless the role of the MSA really is. At the time, all opposition parties hammered the P.C. Government for creating this problem in the first place by deregulating the market, which now grossly favours the power industry over consumers. (See Rick Cowburn’s, former EPCOR VP, comments at this link on Alberta’s failed experiment in deregulating the electricity generation and retail market.)

This letter in the April 5, 2012 Edmonton Journal asked whatever happened to the $5.5 million that TransAlta collected as a result of its illegal price manipulation? The letter asked that this money rightfully be returned to Alberta electricity consumers.

Regarding the imposed power blackouts yesterday, the AESO apparently plans to review what caused 6 generation plants to stop working at the same time; however, AESO officials say those findings won’t be released to the public because of Alberta’s competitive electricity market.

Just when you think the way electricity generation and transmission are managed in Alberta could not possibly get any more ridiculous, it does.

~ by RETA on July 10, 2012.

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