Energy and Utility Regulation in Alberta: Like Oil and Water?
by Cecilia A. Low, 2009.
40 pp. Occasional Paper #25. $15.00 (softcover)
Since establishing the Alberta Board of Public Utility Commissioners in 1915, Alberta's approach to energy resource and utility regulation has evolved in response to various pressures and perceived needs. For the most part, regulation of the energy resource and utility sectors has been carried out separately and independently by sector specific entities. Energy resource and utility regulation continued to be carried out independently one from the other even during the period of time when those functions were merged under the Alberta Energy and Utilities Board (AEUB).
At the end of 2007, the AEUB was dissolved and separate energy resource and utilities regulators - the Energy Resources Conservation Board and the Alberta Utilities Commission - were reconstituted. This most recent evolutionary step in energy resource and utility regulation in Alberta raises many questions and while this paper does not provide conclusive answers, it is intended to provide a basis for better understanding the respective roles of energy and utility regulation in Alberta. To that end, this paper begins with a brief, high level discussion of the theory of regulation then provides the following: an overview of the history of energy resource and utility regulation in Alberta; a description of key phases in energy resource and utility regulation in Alberta; an assessment of the significant characteristics of the energy resource and utility regulators as they existed at the time of the 1995 merger; an examination of the policy and regulatory context for the 1995 merger of the PUB and the ERCB as well as for the 2008 split of the AEUB; and, finally, a discussion of some areas of potential strength and weakness in the current two-board model.