Alberta’s Power Bills Among Highest in Canada and North America
Surveys continue to show that power bills in Alberta are among the highest in Canada. The latest survey, conducted by Hydro Quebec, shows electricity bills in Alberta are not only among the highest in Canada, but also among the highest in North America (Edmonton Journal).
The survey rated Calgary residential power bills the third highest in Canada and seventh highest in North America, among 22 cities surveyed. Edmonton’s rates were fourth highest in Canada and eighth highest in North America.
Opposition parties and electricity experts point to Alberta’s experiment with deregulation as one of the causes of higher electricity costs to consumers. Even though the wholesale price of electricity is low, Albertans continue to get gouged by the generation and transmission industries.
Other provinces, where electricity transmission is provided by crown corporations which are accountable to the public tend to have lower consumer prices. In Alberta, the private sector which is not accountable to the public provides the vast majority of transmission. Profits of companies such as AltaLink, which services more than 85% of Alberta’s population, continue to rise as Albertans have paid higher prices than most Canadians since the electricity market was restructured in 1996.
Electricity experts also point to the recent and rapid increase in construction of high voltage transmission infrastructure as another reason for increasing costs to consumers, because Albertans pay 100% of these infrastructure costs. Industrial consumer groups, academics, RETA, opposition parties and many other transmission experts have repeatedly indicated that the vast majority of this new high-cost infrastructure is not necessary, and is unfairly adding to consumer power bills.
Wildrose electricity critic Joe Anglin recently said, “A lot more industry would look at Alberta if we had our electricity prices under control.” The NDP and Liberals both say it’s time for Albertans to tell the P.C. government to kill the ill-fated experiment in deregulation.