In an effort to coordinate their overlapping mandates, the two
agencies charged with ensuring that Alberta power markets remain
competitive have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) calling for
continued and more defined cooperation between the agencies.
On March 3, 2014, the Competition Bureau announced that the Commissioner of Competition
(head of Canada's Competition Bureau) and the Market
Surveillance Administrator of Alberta (MSA) have signed an MOU,
implementing a framework for information sharing and enforcement
cooperation and collaboration in matters of mutual interest among
Under the Alberta Utilities Commission Act (AUCA), the
MSA is responsible for ensuring Alberta's energy markets are
fair, efficient and openly competitive - a mandate that runs
parallel to the overarching oversight of the Competition Bureau.
The MSA is also obligated under the AUCA to notify the Commissioner
of Competition or the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) of matters
he is dealing with that also fall within their jurisdictions. Given
the AUC's broad power to make an order if it is of the opinion
that a market participant has engaged in conduct that is "not
in accordance with the fair, efficient and openly competitive
operation of the market", there is a possibility that the MSA
can refer a matter related to anti-competitive practices to the
AUC, leading to perhaps a duplicity of proceedings with the
Competition Bureau. The MOU attempts to clarify the potentially
overlapping investigative and enforcement roles of the two
agencies, with the aim of reducing the risk of such duplication or
Under the new framework, the Competition Bureau and the Alberta
MSA are obligated to notify each other, subject to their respective
confidentiality obligations, with respect to a matter that is
materially relevant to the other agency, and that could be carried
out by the other agency under its mandate. The MOU also provides
that the government agencies will work to keep each other informed
of significant developments in competition law, market monitoring
and other Alberta energy market developments of mutual
interest. It further recognizes that mutual investigation,
litigation or other enforcement action may be the most effective
means of addressing conduct harming competition in Alberta energy
The MOU is similar to Ontario's 2002 Joint Agreement, which
aimed to clarify the overall regulatory legal framework for
competition oversight in Ontario's electricity markets, within
the regulatory framework that then existed.
Like the Alberta MOU, the Joint Agreement in Ontario provided that the
agencies would consult with one another on a regular basis with
respect to issues relating to competition oversight, and that each
agency would notify the others at the earliest opportunity of
matters likely to fall within the other's
The Joint Agreement went further than the Alberta MOU and
outlined the potentially overlapping jurisdictions of not only the
energy regulator (Ontario Energy Board, OEB), but also the systems
operator (Independent Electricity Systems Operator, IESO),
specifically laying out the agencies' roles and
responsibilities with regard to key competition matters where (a)
each agency had jurisdiction, (b) the OEB and the IESO each had
jurisdiction, (c) the OEB and the Competition Bureau each had
jurisdiction, and (d) the OEB was refraining from exercising its
At the time of signing the MOU with the Competition Bureau, the
MSA signed another MOU with the U.S. Federal
Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), an independent public agency
whose regulatory authority includes oversight of the transmission
and sale of electric energy at the wholesale level in interstate
commerce in the United States.
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