Alberta Mirror

ATCO Electric decides to pay a $31 million fine following regulator’s inquiry


Key takeaways: 

  • ATCO tried to pass the price of overpayment on to Alberta customers.
  • ATCO allegedly overpaid a First Nation in British Columbia by millions for work on a new transmission cable to ensure lucrative agreements offering construction camps for the Trans Mountain Expansion oil pipeline project.

Regulated utility ATCO Electric had decided to pay a $31 million administrative fine after an Alberta Utilities Commission probe saw it gradually overpaid a First Nation group for work on a new transmission line and then failed to reveal the bases for it when it applied to be returned by ratepayers for the extra charge.

An approved statement of truths contained in a settlement deal between ATCO Electric Ltd. and the commission’s enforcement staff states the company sole-sourced an agreement in 2018 for essential work for an electric transmission line to Jasper, Alta.

The firm that won the contract was co-owned by the Simpcw First Nation in Barriere, B.C.

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Regulated utility ATCO Electric had decided to pay a $31 million administrative fine

The contract says one of the grounds for the sole sourcing was that another of Calgary-based ATCO’s subsidiaries had a previous agreement with the First Nation for infrastructure projects that offered work camps on the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion project.

The statement of truth says ATCO Electric worried that if it didn’t give the agreement to the First Nation group and instead put the work to tender, the group may back out of its contract with ATCO Structures and Logistics and associate with another, non-ATCO firm on the Trans Mountain work.

Reasons buried

The approved statement states that ATCO Electric paid some million dollars, almost market value, for some Jasper line work. Staff tried to conceal the reasons for the overpayment when they aimed to retrieve the extra cash from Alberta customers.

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