Proposed ATCO fine over padded rate requests insufficient, consumers group argues

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EDMONTON — A consumers group is arguing that a $31-million fine proposed for ATCO Electric's attempts to overcharge ratepayers for costs it shouldn't have incurred isn't big enough.

The Consumers' Coalition of Alberta is arguing before the Alberta Utilities Commission that the proposed settlement doesn't adequately compensate people in the province for the harms they have suffered.

ATCO has acknowledged it tried to get the commission to approve rate increases that included nearly $11 million it overpaid a British Columbia First Nation for work on a new transmission line.

The company has acknowledged it made the overpayment in order to secure work for another ATCO company — in violation of the law — then tried to cover it up.

ATCO has said it will reduce its requested rate increase by the amount of the overpayment, but Jim Wachowich with the consumers' group says that won't fully compensate Albertans.

He says damage has been done to the integrity of the provincial utilities regulator.

And he says it's impossible to know if $31 million is enough without knowing how much money the other ATCO company made in its dealings with the First Nation.

ATCO has until May 19 to respond.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 13, 2022.

The Canadian Press

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