Alberta Residents to Receive $4M Refunds From ATCO Electric Over Cost Misrepresentation

By Thea Felicity

Jul 09, 2024 02:26 PM EDT

Alberta Residents to Receive $4M Refunds from ATCO Electric Over Cost Misrepresentation
A photo shows the entrance to the facility of French electricity transmission system operator RTE (Reseau de Transport d'Electricite - Electricity Transmission Network) leading to the underground gallery housing the cables for the 225 KV direct current power link of the Baixas-Santa-Llogaia France-Spain electrical interconnection, in Montesquieu-des-Alberes, southern France, near Canada on October 24, 2023.
(Photo : RAYMOND ROIG/AFP via Getty Images)

Alberta company ATCO Electric faces a $3 million fine after admitting to misleading the province's utilities watchdog regarding its project costs. In addition to the penalty, Global News Calgary reported that ATCO has also agreed to refund $4 million to compensate for unearned rate increases, pending approval from the Alberta Utilities Commission.

The infractions stem from two separate transactions spanning 2013 to 2017, where ATCO misrepresented expenses used by the commission to set utility rates. 

One instance involved reporting $90 million in costs three years before they were incurred, leading Alberta consumers to pay increased rates from 2015 onward based on expenses ATCO had not yet covered.

According to the commission, these actions allowed ATCO to profit from ratepayers' funds before the costs were legitimately incurred, prompting criticism from enforcement staff over the appropriateness of earning returns on reported but not yet paid expenses.

In another incident, ATCO overstated accommodation costs at a construction site in east-central Alberta, claiming payment for 56,356 nights when the actual number was lower, at 25,805 nights. 

The company acknowledged failing to meet transparency obligations in this matter.

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ATCO Electric Investigation

The Alberta Utilities Commission now must determine whether the settlement reached between ATCO and investigators serves the public interest. 

Despite recent improvements in compliance practices noted by the commission, concerns remain about ATCO's forthcoming rate applications and its commitment to transparent cost disclosures. Jim Wachowich of the Consumers' Coalition of Alberta discussed the need for vigilant scrutiny in evaluating ATCO's future conduct and disclosures.

ATCO spokesperson Kurt Kadatz reaffirmed the company's cooperation with regulatory authorities and commitment to ethical standards.

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