Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The internal documents and emails obtained by Wildrose show Balancing Pool officials repeatedly warning that the organization would become insolvent by the end of the year because of the PPAs. While the agency wanted to scrap the existing consumer allocation — a monthly payout to Alberta residents and business — and implement a consumer charge to avoid default, officials in the documents discuss the NDP government preventing them from taking that action, at a $17-million monthly cost to the agency. “The underlying theme is that the minister’s office and the premier’s office knowingly interfered in the conduct of the Balancing Pool, who have a legal mandate to operate in a certain way,” said MacIntyre in an interview. “They specifically interfered and stopped the Balancing Pool from carrying out its fiduciary responsibility. And there is a question in my mind of even potential illegality — not just the unethical side of it — but is it even legal for the government to do that.”----------The government ultimately authorized a $70-million grant to the Balancing Pool to underwrite its losses and subsequently passed legislation this fall to allow the agency to borrow to cover its losses. Balancing Pool president Bruce Roberts said the organization did not need to use the initial $70 million loan but borrowing — along with a new monthly charge as of Jan. 1 — will be required in 2017 to remain financially solvent. -----Julie Ali · University of Alberta I think it would be a good idea for the Auditor General to review the NDP handling of the electricity file. I am curious if we have been ripped off and to what extent. I don't think this is too much to ask for. If the NDP folks in the GOA did a good job and did not overstep their role as legislators to interfere in the work of the independent agency -the Balancing Pool, we will get confirmation by the Auditor General's Office which would put our concerns of meddling to rest. If the Audtior General of Alberta finds that there was meddling that cost us big bucks this is useful information for the next election. I mean it is not as if we can fire the NDP folks now for any inappropriate meddling or work. I think it is always best to go seek facts as the Wildrose Party folks are doing here.-

http://www.edmontonjournal.com/news/politics/wildrose+urges+auditor+probe+handling+electricity+file/12572026/story.html

Wildrose urges auditor to probe NDP's handling of electricity file

JAMES WOOD, CALGARY HERALD, CALGARY HERALD  12.22.2016
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power_plant_web / CALGARY HERALD
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Alberta Energy Minister Marg McCuaig-Boyd. / CALGARY HERALD
The Wildrose is calling on Alberta’s auditor general to investigate what it says is interference by the NDP government with an independent agency that has potentially cost taxpayers millions of dollars.
Opposition electricity and renewables critic Don MacIntyre said in a letter to auditor general Merwan Saher Thursday that documents obtained by the Wildrose through freedom of information requests show the government improperly meddling with the work of the Balancing Pool, an agency formed to manage power agreements in Alberta’s deregulated electricity market.
The Balancing Pool has been at the centre of an ongoing dispute over the last year as utilities returned money-losing power purchase arrangements (PPAs) to the agency in response to the NDP’s increase of the province’s carbon levy on large emitters last Jan. 1, prompting legal action by the province.
The internal documents and emails obtained by Wildrose show Balancing Pool officials repeatedly warning that the organization would become insolvent by the end of the year because of the PPAs. While the agency wanted to scrap the existing consumer allocation — a monthly payout to Alberta residents and business — and implement a consumer charge to avoid default, officials in the documents discuss the NDP government preventing them from taking that action, at a $17-million monthly cost to the agency.
“The underlying theme is that the minister’s office and the premier’s office knowingly interfered in the conduct of the Balancing Pool, who have a legal mandate to operate in a certain way,” said MacIntyre in an interview.
“They specifically interfered and stopped the Balancing Pool from carrying out its fiduciary responsibility. And there is a question in my mind of even potential illegality — not just the unethical side of it — but is it even legal for the government to do that.”
In an Aug. 12, 2016, letter to Energy Minister Marg McCuaig-Boyd, Balancing Pool chair William Stedman noted the agency had repeatedly received verbal instructions from the government on issues such as the consumer allocations, “which cause us to be unable to fulfil our mandated duties.”
“The board is deeply concerned regarding the Balancing Pool’s ability to fulfil its mandated duties as set forth in the Electric Utilities Act, the Balancing Pool Regulation and under the PPAs,” wrote Stedman, who has since resigned from the board.
“Accordingly, we respectfully request that, if we are to deviate from our stated mandate, Minister provide clear written instructions to that effect.”
Another email sees an official saying they are awaiting a decision from Premier Rachel Notley herself on the consumer allocation.
Other documents discuss the Balancing Pool wanting to accept the terminations of the PPAs but the government asking it to refrain.
The government ultimately authorized a $70-million grant to the Balancing Pool to underwrite its losses and subsequently passed legislation this fall to allow the agency to borrow to cover its losses. Balancing Pool president Bruce Roberts said the organization did not need to use the initial $70 million loan but borrowing — along with a new monthly charge as of Jan. 1 — will be required in 2017 to remain financially solvent.
Roberts declined to comment further on the Wildrose allegations.
Kimberley Nishikaze in the auditor general’s office said Saher will determine whether the investigation fits within his resources and mandate.
No minister in the NDP cabinet was immediately available to respond but Notley’s press secretary, Cheryl Oates, issued a statement saying the government had stood up for Albertans to ensure they weren’t stuck paying higher rates.
“We are proud of the work that we’ve done and we’re confident it will stand up to the scrutiny of the Auditor General,” she said in an email.
The NDP government launched legal action in August to void the regulation under which the utilities, including the City of Calgary’s Enmax, relinquished the PPAs. It said the relevant clause, which allows companies to return the PPAs if a change of law makes them unprofitable or “more unprofitable” had been unlawfully enacted and the Balancing Pool has improperly interpreted its rules.
The NDP has now settled its cases with AltaGas, TransCanada and Capital Power. Talks with Enmax are ongoing but the utility has shown no indication it intends to settle with the government.
Gary Reynolds, a former CEO of the Balancing Pool who is now an electricity industry analyst, said despite the settlements the NDP government’s handling of the PPA issue will still cost the Balancing Pool — and Albertans — hundreds of millions of dollars.
He said Albertans should be concerned the government, including Premier Notley, appear to have interfered in the workings of the Balancing Pool.
“It’s ridiculous and in my view it’s all been done in order to downplay the fact that the PPA terminations, which were triggered by the introduction of higher carbon tax levels, created this whole debacle,” said Reynolds.
jwood@postmedia.com



Julie Ali ·
I think it would be a good idea for the Auditor General to review the NDP handling of the electricity file. I am curious if we have been ripped off and to what extent.
I don't think this is too much to ask for. If the NDP folks in the GOA did a good job and did not overstep their role as legislators to interfere in the work of the independent agency -the Balancing Pool, we will get confirmation by the Auditor General's Office which would put our concerns of meddling to rest.
If the Audtior General of Alberta finds that there was meddling that cost us big bucks this is useful information for the next election. I mean it is not as if we can fire the NDP folks now for any inappropriate meddling or work.
I think it is always best to go seek facts as the Wildrose Party folks are doing here.
LikeReplyJust now
Dar Dealmeida
The Wildrants are considering joining up with the party that created the deregulation nightmare...NDP are always put in power to correct all the other corruption from previous governments!
Julie Ali ·
While it is true that the PCs are responsible for this set up we have the NDP folks in charge now and we seem to be losing even more cash in this current expensive fiasco.

The Wildrose party is doing its job as opposition to question the role of the GOA and the expenses incurred for their actions.

I am curious how much this poor handling of the electricity contracts will cost Albertans at the end of this mess and how much we will pay as a consequence of the early shut down of plants that operated using coal. It feels as if the GOA has acted hastily and I am not sure that there are sufficient safeguards in place to ensure power supplies in an emergency.

It also appears that the GOA sets up arms length agencies such as the Balancing Pool and AHS for the purposes of management of services to Albertans and then, it overrides their authority to do what the GOA wants to do. So then what is the point of paying for these independent agencies? Why doesn't the GOA do the work itself?
LikeReply10 mins
Wendy Snow ·
Back in the days of the sponsorhip scandal, people in Alberta ignored the conservatives deregulating the electrical industry while there was a shortage of power. For the first year the price of power was astronomical, but this was hidden from the public by the creation of the deferral accounts. Estimates of the true cost of deregulation range up to 10 thousand million (10 billion) dollars. This amounted to about 3300.00 per Albertan, while the cost per person nationally of the sponsorship losses was about 4.00/ person. Take the log out of your own eye Alberta.
Julie Ali ·
I believe there was some dissent about the problems in the electricity sector but certainly when the PCs were around citizens did not have much ability to do anything about the messes they created just as we don't have much ability to change the messes that the NDP folks create.
We see the log in the eye but no matter who we hire we can't winnow it down to a splinter.
LikeReply8 mins
Carol Rodd ·
Even after the destroying NDP are tossed out, we will be paying for this despicable foible for years to come.
Julie Ali ·
While I admit the NDP were less than productive in the handling of the electricity issue the PCs were no better. It just seems that we are stuck with bad help in the GOA.
LikeReply7 mins
Mark Pearson
Thems an awful lot of words by the Rosers to avoid talking about the "Enron Clause".
Julie Ali ·
And there are no words by the NDP folks to explain the massive payouts to the power companies. We have a major bill that is now due and I don't see where all the money is coming from do you?
LikeReply5 mins
Donald Wiwad ·
Just another thing in a long, long, long list that the Wild Ones are against. Sure would be nice to see ONE thing that they are for, like maybe their shadow budget? Aye?
LikeReply524 December 2016 09:53Edited
Julie Ali ·
It really doesn't matter if the Wildrose folks have a budget or not. We don't think the NDP folks have much of a budget even in the GOA. When the next election comes we are going to turf the NDP folks just like we turfed the PC folks. We're not interested in the ability of the next poltiical party to lead us. We have seen it doesn't matter who we hire -they are all the same. So why not change the political parties each and every election?
LikeReply4 mins
Adam Daniels
Someone should just destroy to Ouija Board the WR party uses to contact their overload, satan
Julie Ali ·
This is just plain silly.
LikeReply4 mins

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