AUC rules in favour of municipalities

In late 2021, Fortis Alberta filed an application with the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) about how its terms and conditions specified the refund for streetlight investment was to be directed in new developments.

Fortis submitted that since June 2021, it has received requests from developers for refund of streetlight investments when no agreement was reached between the developer and the municipality regarding the streetlight investment. In this situation, Fortis’ terms and conditions require the streetlight investment to be paid to the developers.

In contrast, municipalities have directed Fortis to provide the streetlight investment to the municipality. As a result, Fortis sought guidance from the AUC concerning these disputes, and has not issued any streetlight investment refunds for the contested developments since June 2021. 

Up until this proceeding, municipalities would usually direct where the investment goes. In some cases, the municipality keeps it to offset the cost of operating the streetlight over its lifespan or directs it to be paid to the developer as an incentive.

Alberta Municipalities registered as an intervenor in this proceeding because this issue clearly affected many municipalities and was quite narrow in scope. We developed a submission outlining our position that municipalities should direct how this investment is refunded and were given an opportunity to provide comment on other intervenors’ submissions. 

The AUC reviewed these documents and ruled on July 11, 2022 that the streetlight investment refund should continue to be paid to municipalities. It also directed Fortis to submit updated terms and conditions that specify that the investment is to be paid to municipalities.

While Fortis Alberta or any of the other intervenors could still appeal this decision, the AUC’s ruling is a win for municipalities as it strengthens municipal autonomy and decision-making when it comes to development.