Alberta’s Electric Reliability Framework

A product of the Energy Mines Ministers’ Conference

Alberta’s Fast Facts (2015)
Installed Capacity 16,130 MW
Annual Generation 81,620 GWh
Annual Consumption 82,400 GWh
Customers (major service areas only) ~1.75 million
Annual Exports 650 GWh
Annual Imports 1,430 GWh
Transmission System length (≥ 69 kV) ~ 25,295 km
Interconnections with British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Montana

Installed Capacity Mix (2015)Footnote 1

Text version of Pie Chart

Pie Chart of Alberta’s installed electric capacity mix (2015): natural gas 43%, coal 39%, wind 9%, hydro 6% and others less than 3%

Key Organizations

Alberta Energy, a ministry of the Government of Alberta, has a strategic objective to provide a safe, reliable, and efficient electricity system that supports Albertans and aligns with the Government of Alberta’s Climate Leadership Plan priorities.  The current competitive market structure is based on the four core policy tenets: open access transmission; energy-only market design; customer choice; and fair, efficient and openly competitive markets for electricity and ancillary services.

The Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) is an independent, quasi-judicial agency of the province of Alberta.   The AUC regulates the utilities sector, natural gas and electricity markets to protect social, economic and environmental interests where market forces do not.  All Canadian provinces have some form of arm’s length regulation for their utilities, whether they are investor-owned as in Alberta or Crown corporations as in most other provinces.

The Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO) is the Independent System Operator for Alberta as defined in the Electric Utilities Act.  The AESO is responsible for the long-term planning of the Alberta transmission system, operating Alberta’s energy-only market for electricity, and operating Alberta’s power grid on a 24/7 basis to ensure reliable power is available at all times to meet the needs of Albertans. The AESO also provides open and non-discriminatory access to Alberta's power grid for generation and distribution companies and large industrial consumers of electricity. The AESO is a not-for-profit entity that is independent of any industry affiliations and owns no transmission or market assets.  Approximately 60 per cent of jurisdictions in North America have an Independent System Operator.

Alberta’s Market Surveillance Administrator (MSA) has a broad mandate including surveillance, investigation, and enforcement to help ensure the Fair, Efficient and Open Competition Regulation under the Alberta Utilities Commission Act and the Electric Utilities Act is followed.   The MSA is unique to competitive investor-based jurisdictions and is needed to ensure that competition statutes are upheld by all electricity market participants. 

Unique to Alberta, the Balancing Pool (BP) was established by the Government of Alberta in 1999 under the Electric Utilities Act, in order to help manage the transition to competition in Alberta’s electricity industry.  It underwrites certain risks and obligations inherent in the Power Purchase Arrangements associated with previously regulated power plants.

Electric Reliability Framework in Alberta

Alberta is part of the North American Bulk Electric System through its interties with Saskatchewan, Montana and British Columbia. The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) develops reliability standards for the North American power industry that are reviewed in Alberta by the AESO for their applicability as Alberta Reliability Standards. The AESO then recommends approval or rejection of reliability standards to the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) and the AUC approves them unless they are technically deficient or not in the public interest. They may also be not applicable in the province (e.g. a nuclear standard). The MSA’s legislated mandate includes the enforcement of Alberta Reliability Standards.

The AESO is a member of the Western Electricity Coordinating Council (WECC), and the AESO participates in various WECC committees to coordinate with entities in the Western Interconnection.   

For more information related to how electric reliability standards are reviewed, adopted, monitored, and enforced in Alberta, please go to the Alberta Provincial Summary which is currently available on the NERC website: Provincial Summaries

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