PC MLAs to Look at Electricity Prices
The Redford government has just appointed a group of rookie backbencher members of the PC Caucus to a committee that is charged with trying to stabilize electricity prices in Alberta and bolster price protection for consumers (Edmonton Journal). Only one of the 6 committee members has more than one year’s experience on the job. Committee members are supposed to figure out how to implement the majority of the recommendations of a 390-page report – Power for the People – prepared by an expert Retail Market Review Committee (RMRC).
Rick Cowburn, former EPCOR VP and current independent utility consultant, said the government should have asked implementing agencies like the Alberta Utilities Commission and Alberta Electric System Operator, rather than MLAs, to come up with a plan to implement recommendations of the RMRC. Wildrose Utilities Critic Joe Anglin said, “This is a serious issue – this is about consumer bills. We have outrageous expenses, the cost of our bill is going up, and there is nothing in the short term or long term that will reduce them. Now we have this committee…the inexperience and the lack of knowledge there – I don’t know who is going to guide them.”
It is worrisome to consider what a group of neophyte MLAs will do with the recommendations of the RMRC. What is the background of committee members and how will that influence the decisions they make? Cathy Olesen, the new PC MLA for Sherwood Park, certainly didn’t put up a big fight against the unnecessary and overpriced Heartland power line going right through her constituency. And Maureen Kubinec, the new PC MLA for Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock, argued during the last provincial election campaign that the Heartland power line was necessary, even though all of the experts had shown that it is not needed.
So…once again, it seems that the Alberta Government will scurry around a little bit to make it appear they sincerely want to fix Alberta’s electricity problems, when they really just want to leave things the way they are because the power industry (generation & transmission) is making so much money and is happy with the way things are.
Albertans pay some of the highest electricity prices in the country – some blame it on our deregulated electricity generation, others suggest our overbuilt transmission system is at fault, and some think the power industry (especially transmission) is too cozy with the Alberta PC government (see Making Money by Making Friends).