Where We Stand

Get the facts

A Call For Transparency and Fairness

TransAlta has filed a complaint with the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) over the actions of the Market Surveillance Administrator. Our position is summarized here in our media statement and we have requested an AUC hearing.

This is an unprecedented step for TransAlta. We continue to stand behind Alberta’s electricity market, but we also believe all participants have a role to play in keeping the energy market strong and reliable, with competitively priced power. We take that role seriously.

A reliable and healthy electricity system must have rules that are clear, concise, transparent and fair for all participants—and that is what we are looking for from the AUC. We do not believe the MSA has followed due process in its role as the market monitor in Alberta.

The facts

On this page you will find TransAlta’s legal filing with the Alberta Utilities Commission. They detail a long history of challenges we have had in attempting to understand the MSA’s position and resolve this.

Below are four key facts:

1. When and why plant output is reduced or shut down for an unplanned outage

Like the decisions every car owner must make when an unexpected repair is required to keep your car running, our Operations Team face many decisions during an unplanned outage event. These decisions must follow the guidelines and rules established by our regulators. These decisions are always made by our Operations management and they follow all established guidelines and rules.

Safety is always our first priority when taking a power station down for urgent repairs. In every case, we look at three criteria:

  • The need—safety or maintenance—is the primary focus; no plant is ever shut down unless there is a need to do so.
  • The rules—which means the rules and guidance governing outages, which are set by the Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO) and the MSA. This includes the guidelines in place by the MSA on the decision parameters when a unit can be shut down for unplanned work and the reliability rules that the AESO governs.
  • The economics—we assess the cost and what makes the most prudent sense financially. This was expressly allowed and encouraged by the MSA within their Offer Behaviour Enforcement Guidelines (OBEG) to market participants on how to be a competitive participant within Alberta’s deregulated market.

All three criteria must come into play, and only then is a plant’s output reduced or shut down. The need to shut down a plant for safety reasons trumps everything else, and the decision is always ultimately made by Operations management.

TransAlta followed the rules, and we are confident the AUC hearing will show this.

For more information on the guidelines and rules TransAlta complies with:

2. Remaining competitive

TransAlta, like other electricity generators in the province, helps to ensure Albertans pay the true cost of electricity. Alberta taxpayers pay for electricity only; they have zero utility debt despite the billions of dollars companies like TransAlta invest in building the infrastructure Albertans need to continue to grow and prosper.

Overall, the system works. But it is also a system that is evolving.

Producing and providing customers electricity is what we do.

The Alberta market expects all power providers—not just TransAlta, but all providers—to provide stable, affordable electricity in Alberta and the guidelines and rules we follow are expressly allowed by the MSA.

3. Why we are asking the AUC for a hearing

The MSA issued guidelines that TransAlta followed. Now the MSA is accusing TransAlta of breaking the rules they set. We did not, and we are asking the AUC to find out why the rules were not clear, why the rules changed, and why new rules are being applied retroactively, and only to TransAlta. TransAlta and all Albertans deserve answers.

4. Our unqualified support for a strong regulatory system

We believe in competition. We want a strong regulator and a strong regulatory system—our issue is the confusion created by the MSA.

Power generators all want, and need, clear rules that are consistent and apply to everyone.

We believe that is fair, necessary and essential to a strong regulatory environment, and TransAlta is standing up for it.