In June, the government passed An Act to Empower Utility Consumers, which expanded the mandate of the UCA to include water utilities. Effective Dec. 1, the UCA is a one-stop shop for people looking for help on water, natural gas and electricity issues. The UCA previously mediated disputes between consumers and electricity and natural gas providers, but can now help water utility customers with questions about billing, customer service, disconnection and metering issues.
In addition to the expanded mandate, a new panel that will advise on electricity and natural gas matters concerning residential, agricultural and small business consumers is now in operation. The Power and Natural Gas Consumers Panel was created to provide advice and guidance regarding current and emerging energy consumer issues to the Minister of Service Alberta and the UCA.
The panel has nine members, including four members who represent the following stakeholder groups:
- Alberta Chambers of Commerce
- Alberta Federation of Agriculture
- Alberta Urban Municipalities Association
- Rural Municipalities of Alberta
The remaining five public members were selected through an open competition, based on a diverse range of skill sets. They bring to the panel backgrounds in policy/law, utility infrastructure, education, social work and home ownership.