On June 19, 2020, the AUC issued its first annual report card, a detailed examination of its results designed and formatted for stakeholders to assess whether the AUC has met its objectives.
The AUC quantified the benefits of its initiatives it has taken and is taking to reduce regulatory burden and improve efficiency. The goal is to, where possible, identify or estimate the monetary benefits resulting from AUC actions.
The AUC’s strategic and operational plans coalesce around four themes of efficiency and limiting regulatory burden, competition and markets, infrastructure, and people. The report card charts the progress of the AUC’s latest efficiency initiatives, which are designed to deliver enduring change to the AUC’s regulatory approach over a number of reporting cycles.
Some examples of the work underway in 2019-2020 include:
Regulatory Burden Reduction Roundtables: On October 4, 2019, the AUC held a roundtable with stakeholders to gather feedback on regulatory burden. The AUC asked for comments in three areas: defining regulatory burden, suggested areas for improvement and next steps. It was clear that the major priority for AUC stakeholders was for the AUC to address its timeliness in determining major rate cases.
Independent, expert review of AUC rates proceedings approach: To reflect the stakeholder priority on streamlining the process for major rates cases, the AUC created an independent three-member committee of outside experts with deep regulatory experience to review stakeholder submissions made to the AUC, to the Alberta government and to invite stakeholder submissions on its own. The committee is expected to deliver a report in July on how changes can be implemented.
Project Green Light: Project Green Light is a grassroots program enabling staff to drive and pace innovation and change at the AUC. The first of the initiatives was a streamlined process to resolve boundary disputes between a distribution company and rural electrification associations. It reduced historical processing times by 75 percent.
Trusted-traveller approach to low-risk applications: The AUC implemented a pilot approach to certain low-risk applications, replacing the lengthy formal application process with a simple one-page checklist. This has cut processing time dramatically.
Future annual report cards will also include an AUC Industry Impact Assessment, which will include a broader assessment of the AUC’s regulatory impact. The first such assessment was scheduled for this year, however it was delayed due to the impact and uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to present the Alberta government and health authorities with unpredictable challenges. Within the regulatory framework, the AUC is taking a pragmatic approach to relieve regulatory burdens that may hinder the collective response to the pandemic. First and foremost is the AUC’s support for Albertans as the Alberta government works with retailers to provide billing relief during the crisis. AUC staff have also taken a pragmatic view of enforcement and reporting, including the potential forbearance of certain regulatory requirements in the context of approaches market participants have taken in emergency conditions.