By Ian Croft
With the electronic conveniences of modern life becoming ever more evident, companies that provide said electricity are now able to gain a large amount of wealth. A representative of one of these companies, Cody Webster, Vauxhall’s Stakeholder relations manager for Fortis Alberta, was at the last Vauxhall council meeting to present them a delegation on their franchise agreement.
“My primary role is to take after our municipalities, so if you’re having any concerns, I am your direct contact to Fortis Alberta,” said Webster. “Today, I am here to discuss the franchise agreement renewal, so we are coming up on our initial 10-year term renewal and we are giving a notice of our intention to renew to the Town of Vauxhall.”
After this introduction, Webster gave an overview of what Fortis Alberta does for the town.
“Fortis Alberta does provide safe, reliable electricity to more than 574,000 sites in Alberta which does include, residential, commercial, and industrial customers in central and southern Alberta. We own and operate approximately 128,000 kilometres of power line, which does include overhead and underground. We operate in 240 communities of which 163 have franchise agreements in place today. We do employ more than 1,100 Albertans that live and work in the communities that they serve. I am aware that we do have a couple of employees that do live in Vauxhall here.”
Webster went into a discussion about how they are regulated by the Government of Alberta.
“Fortis Alberta is a distribution utility that delivers electricity to your community,” said Webster. “We are regulated by the Alberta Utility Commission. What that means is, we are a natural monopoly, similar to a water line or gas line within the community, so we are regulated to ensure that we do keep in check. It’s sort of an artificial competition, so what the regular does (is) they watch over all of our major projects that we have — line rebuilds, system works — they make sure it is prudent and in the best interest of the ratepayers of Alberta. The rates and terms and conditions are approved by the Alberta Utility Commission. Every year the rates do go through the regulator before they are published and go live January 1.”
After this explanation, Webster then transitioned into talking about the history of their franchise agreements.
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