Bad situation gets worse

Bad situation gets worse by Ron Botting, September 20, 2007, Edmonton Journal
I am concerned that Bill 46 will seriously reduce the level of democratic involvement in developing future power facilities in Alberta by increasing the powers of the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) — the proposed successor to the EUB. The EUB has consistently demonstrated its bias against landowners and citizens who question energy development. My concerns are as follows:
– Section 9(1) of the bill gives the AUC the power to make orders and issue decisions without giving public notice or holding public hearings;
– Section 9(4) gives the AUC the power to prevent landowners and consumers from making verbal representations to the commission;
– Section 9(4) also restricts the ability of the landowner to hire outside legal counsel when intervening in regulatory hearings;
– Section 29(2) limits to 30 days, the time period in which Albertans can appeal a decision or order;
– And the most disgraceful aspect is that Section 98(2) makes this law retroactive to June 1, 2003. This seems an attempt to make the past abuses legitimate.
The commission claims its mandate is “to ensure that the discovery, development and delivery of Alberta’s energy resources and utility services take place in a manner that is fair, responsible, and in the public interest.” Bill 46 reveals clearly that the commission has its own ideas of what constitutes the public interest, and has little regard for what the public actually wants. The EUB has lost the trust of Albertans, and should be replaced with one that is more accountable to citizens.

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