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Alberta

Province to stop municipalities overcharging on utility bills

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Making utility bills more affordable

Alberta’s government is taking action to protect Alberta’s ratepayers by introducing legislation to lower and stabilize local access fees.

Affordability is a top priority for Alberta’s government, with the cost of utilities being a large focus. By introducing legislation to help reduce the cost of utility bills, the government is continuing to follow through on its commitment to make life more affordable for Albertans. This is in addition to the new short-term measures to prevent spikes in electricity prices and will help ensure long-term affordability for Albertans’ basic household expenses.

“Albertans need relief from high electricity costs and we can provide that relief by bringing in fairness on local access fees. We will not allow municipalities – including the city of Calgary – to profit off of unpredictable spikes in electricity costs while families struggle to make ends meet. We will protect Alberta families from the extreme swings of electricity costs by standardizing the calculations of local access fees across the province.”

Danielle Smith, Premier

Local access fees are functioning as a regressive municipal tax that consumers pay on their utility bills. It is unacceptable for municipalities to be raking in hundreds of millions in surplus revenue off the backs of Alberta’s ratepayers and cause their utility bills to be unpredictable costs by tying their fees to a variable rate. Calgarians paid $240 in local access fees on average in 2023, compared to the $75 on average in Edmonton, thanks to Calgary’s formula relying on a variable rate. This led to $186 million more in fees being collected by the City of Calgary than expected.

“Albertans deserve to have fair and predictable utility bills. Our government is listening to Albertans and taking action to address unaffordable fees on power bills. By introducing this legislation, we are taking yet another step towards ensuring our electricity grid is affordable, reliable, and sustainable for generations to come.”

Nathan Neudorf, Minister of Affordability and Utilities

To protect Alberta’s ratepayers, the Government of Alberta is introducing the Utilities Affordability Statutes Amendment Act, 2024. If passed, this legislation would promote long-term affordability and predictability for utility bills by prohibiting the use of variable rates when calculating municipalities’ local access fees.

Variable rates are highly volatile, which results in wildly fluctuating electricity bills. When municipalities use this rate to calculate their local access fees, it results in higher bills for Albertans and less certainty in families’ budgets. These proposed changes would standardize how municipal fees are calculated across the province, and align with most municipalities’ current formulas.

“Over the last couple of years many consumers have been frustrated with volatile Regulated Rate Option (RRO) prices which dramatically impacted their utility bills. In some cases, these impacts were further amplified by local access fees that relied upon calculations that included those same volatile RRO prices. These proposed changes provide more clarity and stability for consumers, protecting them from volatility in electricity markets.”

Chris Hunt, Utilities Consumer Advocate

If passed, the Utilities Affordability Statutes Amendment Act, 2024 would prevent municipalities from attempting to take advantage of Alberta’s ratepayers in the future. It would amend sections of the Electric Utilities Act and Gas Utilities Act to ensure that the Alberta Utilities Commission has stronger regulatory oversight on how these municipal fees are calculated and applied, ensuring Alberta ratepayer’s best interests are protected.

“Addressing high, unpredictable fees on utility bills is an important step in making life more affordable for Albertans. This legislation will protect Alberta’s ratepayers from spikes in electricity prices and ensures fairness in local access fees.”

Chantelle de Jonge, Parliamentary Secretary for Affordability and Utilities

If passed, this legislation would also amend sections of the Alberta Utilities Commission Act, the Electric Utilities ActGovernment Organizations Act and the Regulated Rate Option Stability Act to replace the terms “Regulated Rate Option”, “RRO”, and “Regulated Rate Provider” with “Rate of Last Resort” and “Rate of Last Resort Provider” as applicable.

Quick facts

  • Local access fees are essentially taxes that are charged to electricity distributors by municipalities. These fees are then passed on to all of the distributor’s customers in the municipality, and appear as a line item on their utility bills.
    • The Municipal Government Act grants municipalities the authority to charge, amend, or cap franchise and local access fees.
  • Linear taxes and franchise fees are usually combined together on consumers’ power bills in one line item as the local access fee.
    • The linear tax is charged to the utility for the right to use the municipality’s property for the construction, operation, and extension of the utility.
    • The franchise fee is the charge paid by the utility to the municipality for the exclusive right to provide service in the municipality.
  • Local access fees are usually calculated in one of two ways:
    • (1) A percentage of transmission and distribution (delivery) costs, typically 10-15 per cent.
    • (2) A fixed, cents per kilowatt-hour of consumed power charge (City of Edmonton).
  • Calgary is the only municipality that employs a two-part fee calculation formula:
    • 11.11 per cent of transmission and distribution charges plus 11.11 per cent of the Regulated Rate Option multiplied by the consumed megawatt hours.

Related information

This is a news release from the Government of Alberta.

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Alberta

Defending Provincial Priorities

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News release from Free Alberta Strategy

The recent debate around zoning across the province is a prime example of federal encroachment.

The federal government offered money to cities to help with housing affordability challenges, but only made the money available if cities promised to change zoning policies.

As you are aware, The Free Alberta Strategy was built on the concept that the federal government needs to keep out of provincial jurisdiction.

For years, Ottawa has been watering down the constitutional delineation of duties between the federal government and the provincial government.

Bill 18 – the Provincial Priorities Act – is anticipated to pass in the Alberta Legislature this week, and represents a huge step in the direction of greater provincial jurisdictional autonomy.

The Provincial Priorities Act has been dubbed the “Keep Out of Our Backyard” law by Alberta Premier Danielle Smith.

Under the Provincial Priorities Act, any agreements between the federal government and any provincial entities – including municipalities – must receive provincial approval to be considered valid.

Agreements between the federal government and provincial entities lacking Alberta’s endorsement will be deemed illegal under this legislation.

When the legislation was announced, Smith was not mincing words:

“It is not unreasonable for Alberta to demand fairness from Ottawa. They have shown time and again that they will put ideology before practicality, which hurts Alberta families and our economy. We are not going to apologize for continuing to stand up for Albertans so we get the best deal possible.

“Since Ottawa refuses to acknowledge the negative impacts of its overreach, even after losing battles at the Federal and Supreme Courts, we are putting in additional measures to protect our provincial jurisdiction to ensure our province receives our fair share of federal tax dollars and that those dollars are spent on the priorities of Albertans.”

Although the federal government has limited direct authority in provincial jurisdiction, it can leverage its substantial financial resources to prompt or pressure provincial governments into specific actions.

The recent debate around zoning across the province is a prime example of federal encroachment.

The federal government offered money to cities to help with housing affordability challenges, but only made the money available if cities promised to change zoning policies.

Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek tried to claim that the federal housing funds were not contingent on the city’s rezoning efforts, but federal Housing Minister Sean Fraser posted a pretty strong response on social media platform X (formerly Twitter):

“If Calgary, or any other city, does not meet the conditions they have agreed to, we will withhold funding under the agreement.”

The federal government played the same trick in many other provinces, too.

But, notably, in Quebec, the federal government just gave the Quebec government the cash and let them distribute it to their municipalities without conditions.

It’s tempting to think this is just more federal bias towards Quebec.

But, actually, this is a great example of how pushing back can have results.

You see, the Provincial Priorities Act in Alberta is modeled after existing legislation in Quebec, known as “An Act Respecting the Ministère du Conseil exécutif,” which prohibits any municipal body from negotiating or entering into agreements with the federal government or its agencies without explicit authorization from the Quebec government.

If Ottawa wants to meddle in Quebec’s jurisdiction, it must first seek Quebec’s approval.

And it works – the federal government got back in line.

Now, with the Provincial Priorities Act, if Ottawa wants to meddle in Alberta’s jurisdiction, it must first seek Alberta’s approval.

It’s time for Ottawa to recognize Alberta’s autonomy and respect our right to determine our own future.

At the Free Alberta Strategy, we understand that constant vigilance is necessary – every time we establish a boundary, the federal government tries to circumvent it.

We will continue to inform you about what’s happening in Alberta and fight to keep Ottawa out.

But we need your support.

With your help, we can continue our work to defend Alberta’s sovereignty and serve the best interests of all Albertans.

Enough is enough – we will not stand by while our interests are disregarded.

If you are in a financial position to contribute to our work, please donate!

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Alberta

Alberta’s government honours the province’s top athletes, teams, coaches and officials with 2023 Sport Recognition Awards

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Minister of Tourism and Sport Joseph Schow presents the 2023 Alberta Sport Recognition Awards, honouring the province’s top athletes, teams, coaches and officials.

Celebrating excellence in Alberta sport

Alberta is a global leader in sport, and it’s thanks to the athletes, coaches and officials who dedicate themselves to excellence in their craft. The Alberta Sport Recognition program was established in 1987 to acknowledge the outstanding achievements and commitment of coaches, officials and volunteers in the province.

Recipients of the 2023 Sport Recognition Awards represent the best in sport from across the province, from exceptional athletes to hard-working coaches and officials. Through their unwavering dedication to sport, these individuals are contributing to Alberta’s reputation as a global leader in sport and help make our province the best place in the world to live, visit and play.

“These high-performance athletes, coaches, and officials have demonstrated extraordinary achievement in international and national competitions and are deserving of recognition for their efforts. I am proud of their contributions and grateful for their leadership in making Alberta a province that lives the spirit of sport.”

Joseph Schow, Minister of Tourism and Sport

“The award recipients have demonstrated dedication, passion and excellence which have set them apart as true champions in their respective fields. Many have reached the pinnacle of performance and each of the recipients has demonstrated unparalleled commitment and skill, inspiring others to reach for excellence in all they do.”

Dale Henwood, chair, Alberta Sports Hall of Fame

The 2023 award recipients are:

  • Junior Male Athlete of the Year – Nikita Ciudin – Sprint Canoe
  • Junior Female Athlete of the Year – Julia Bartlett – Biathlon
  • Junior Team of the Year – Team Tao – Curling – Johnson Tao, Jaedon Neuert, Ben Morin, Adam Naugler, Zach Davies and Skip Wilson (coach)
  • Open Male Athlete of the Year – Jeremiah Lauzon – Athletics
  • Open Female Athlete of the Year – Alexandria Loutitt – Ski Jumping
  • Open Team of the Year – Team Canada 3×3 Basketball – Michelle Plouffe, Katherine Plouffe, Paige Crozon, Kacie Bosch, Jamie Scott, and Kim Gaucher (coach)
  • Coaching Recognition Award: Rachel Koroscil – Biathlon
  • Coaching Recognition Award: Marty Birky – Basketball
  • Technical Official Recognition Award – Barb Bush – Springboard Diving
  • Technical Official Recognition Awards – Matthew Kallio – Basketball

Quick facts

  • In 2002, the Athlete and Team of the Year awards were added to the awards program to acknowledge high performance athletes and teams who are promoting Alberta on the national and international stage, and recognize their pursuit of sport development goals.
  • The Coach Recognition Award recognizes coaches for their outstanding achievements in developing Alberta’s amateur athletes.
  • The Official Recognition Award recognizes outstanding achievements in and commitments to officiating.
  • Award recipients were selected by a committee and considered results from the 2022/2023 competition season.
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