Power agreement court action intended to protect businesses

Written by Deron Bilous, MLA for Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview. First publishing in the Edmonton Sun on August 2, 2016.

When the former PC government went behind closed doors in 2000 to allow Enron to protect the profits of some big electricity companies at the expense of all other Alberta businesses and families, it did so against the interests of everyone in this province who pays to turn on the lights.

With no public input or notification, the PC government of the day secretly made a handful of electricity companies the big winners and every other company in the province losers.

It is wrong to let an unlawful and deliberately-hidden escape clause allow a select few companies to collect the profits when power prices are high and hand other companies and families the losses when prices are low.

 
It is our responsibility as a government to do everything in our power to address this injustice and protect the interests of industry, small businesses and families who have suffered during this economic downturn.

Contrary to what Graham Hicks suggested in his commentary, which ran online July 28, we are going to court to protect the interests of Alberta businesses.

This is entirely consistent with our measures to create jobs and diversify our economy as part of the Alberta Jobs Plan.

During my time as Minister of Economic Development and Trade, I have talked to large, medium and small business owners about the challenges they face and the tools we can provide them to help them grow, diversify and thrive here in Alberta, and I know my colleagues have done the same.

When they told us they needed better access to capital, we worked to make $2 billion available through ATB and AIMCo.

We acted on their advice to develop two new tax credits, valued at $165 million, that will be rolled out in early 2017 to give Alberta entrepreneurs the capital they need to drive innovation, diversify the economy and create new jobs.

We are also reducing the small business tax by one third as part of our Climate Leadership Plan, and have continued to ensure that our province has by far the lowest overall taxes in the country.

Business owners have told me that one of their biggest concerns is ensuring their costs remain low. So it concerns me deeply when I hear that many industrial operations, including some of our key job creators in the oil sands, could see their electricity bills increase by hundreds of thousands of dollars a month if we let the unlawful Enron clause stand. 

It is our responsibility as a government to do everything in our power to address this injustice and protect the interests of industry, small businesses and families who have suffered during this economic downturn.

To do otherwise would be anti-business and anti-Albertan.