The Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) announced the approval of
a $56 million administrative penalty/costs payment agreed to
between Alberta's electricity watchdog and TransAlta Corp
believed to be the largest of its kind in Canadian history.
TransAlta is required to pay a $52-million administrative penalty,
plus $4.3 million to cover the cost of the Market Surveillance
Administrator's (MSA) investigation and hearing costs. This was
the second (penalty) phase of a lengthy enforcement hearing,
following a July 2015 decision by the AUC that TransAlta had
committed contraventions of the Electric Utilities Act and related
legislation. Borden Ladner Gervais (BLG) acted for the MSA
The administrative penalty includes $27 million to repay
economic benefit realized by TransAlta, plus a monetary penalty of
$25 million. The commission ruled that clear, cogent and convincing
evidence presented by BLG lawyers proved that TransAlta timed
outages at its coal-fired power plants in late 2010 and early 2011
to drive up power prices when demand was high. It also found the
company used non-public information while trading in the
In the July decision, the AUC concluded that TransAlta had
breached the applicable legislative provisions pertaining to
anticompetitive conduct, electricity market manipulation, trading
on non-public outage records and failing to support a fair,
efficient and openly competitive market. The regulatory body
further concluded that one of the other respondents, an individual
trader employed by TransAlta, had breached the trading provisions
in the FEOC Regulation but had established a defence of due
diligence on the basis he received trading approval from a
The MSA engaged BLG to prepare and conduct the prosecution of
this complex proceeding because of BLG's extensive enforcement
and other experience before the AUC and other regulatory tribunals,
and its electricity industry expertise. The BLG team was comprised
of Randall Block, Q.C., John Blair, Q.C., Sandi Shannon and
assistance from BLG associates Leanne Desbarats, Laura Poppel and
Combining industry and market knowledge with national reach, BLG
is seasoned in dealing with complex proceedings before courts and
regulators across Canada, having conducted numerous significant
securities cases and regulatory proceedings in all jurisdictions.
Among the firm's many recognitions, BLG's Commercial
Litigation Group has been top-ranked by Lexpert for several
consecutive years and Mr. Block and Mr. Blair are both recognized
by Chambers Canada in the dispute resolution field. In addition,
Mr. Block has been recognized by Benchmark Canada as the
Energy/Resources Litigator of the Year.
Canada is a constitutional monarchy, a parliamentary democracy and a federation comprised of ten provinces and three territories. Canada's judiciary is independent of the legislative and executive branches of Government.
The Government of Alberta recently announced a number of policy changes that will impact the Alberta Electricity Market, composed of its generators, transmitters, distributors, retailers, electricity consumers and wholesale electricity market.
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