Electricity prices have skyrocketed in Alberta over the last 2 months and it has not gone unnoticed. In the Alberta legislature Premier Redford has been asked for days if her government would do something and for days she has repeated her standard answer: That Alberta has some of the lowest rates in the country, which is not at all true, and that there is no problem because consumers can just sign up to one of the many fixed rate programs offered.
Some quotes from Redford's answers: (highlighting mine)
"What we know is that, as the Minister of Energy has
said, with a deregulated market we are able to provide some of the
lowest cost electricity in the country, Mr. Speaker."
"Mr. Speaker. What we know is that while there are a number
of companies that provide options, the customers only have to
make one call, and that's to the Utilities Consumer Advocate, to
get the information that they need."
These same talking points were also repeated by Ted Morton, Minister of Energy.
"Mr. Speaker, we're quite proud of the fact that we
give residential consumers this choice. It's not very complicated.
Albertans every day make a choice when they go to borrow
money for a mortgage. Do they want a fixed rate, do they want a
variable rate, or do they want some combination? It's exactly the
same situation with respect to electricity, and Albertans appreciate
"I will say this very, very slowly for the benefit of the
Leader of the Opposition. There are 11 different providers, all of
them having a contract at 8 to 9 cents which can be cancelled in a
30- to 45-day period if you don't like it."
So there is NO problem. All is well and in fact they said that having the government involved would not be a good thing.
Redford: "Mr. Speaker, dangerous words were government
involvement. Dangerous words were presuming that the solution
to this is for government to fix the problem."
Morton: "Mr. Speaker, the members opposite always seem to
think the solution is more government involvement; we don't
think so. The facts speak for themselves."
But yesterday this non problem has seemed to turn into a problem, at least in terms of this being an election issue, and now it demands that the government do something.
"The Premier has ordered that an independent panel review the regulated variable rate option to consider the ability to reduce volatility and costs. The Premier will also direct the Utilities Consumer Advocate to represent consumers' interests to the independent panel. The advocate's mandate in this process is to ensure the costs associated with electricity are just and reasonable for consumers."
So some action may be required after all in spite of what both the Premier and Morton have been saying for days on the issue and even odder that it will include those dangerous words of government involvement.
But before anyone gets their hopes up I have to remind you that like that "discussion on taxes" or the judicial, or maybe not judicial, inquiry into healthcare, that will be taking place after the election when it will be a matter us accepting whatever it is the government intends to do with no recourse.
So why are they doing it now? Simple, they are scared and are trying to defuse a potentially damaging election issue by pretending to do something now when they really are not doing anything and hope to ride it out hoping the usual PC smoke and mirrors again fool Albertans into voting for them.
Forming a task force to study, what they said was not a problem, is not action, it is pure fluff to appease the masses. To borrow the words of Ted Morton, the facts speak for themselves.
Related (how well our PC government looks after the consumer) Trans Alta fined $370,000 for manipulating power market. BTW: Trans Alta made an estimated $5.5 million from gaming the system.
Can someone explain to me how a $5 million dollar profit (after paying the pittance of a fine) deters them or anyone else from doing it again, and again, and....?