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Regulator rules it's too early for public group to have role in ATCO probe talks

EDMONTON — Alberta's utilities regulator has ruled on whether a consumer's group can address an investigation into alleged wrongdoing by one of the province's main power providers.
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ATCO chief executive officer Nancy Southern addresses the company's annual meeting in Calgary, Wednesday, May 15, 2019. Alberta's utilities regulator has ruled on whether a consumer's group can address an investigation into alleged wrongdoing by one of the province's main power providers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

EDMONTON — Alberta's utilities regulator has ruled on whether a consumer's group can address an investigation into alleged wrongdoing by one of the province's main power providers.

The Alberta Utilities Commission is talking with ATCO Electric to try to reach a settlement for findings of commission investigators.

Investigators say the company deliberately overpaid a First Nation for work on a new transmission line, allegedly in order to secure contracts for another ATCO company.

Investigators also allege the company tried to shift the $12-million overpayment to Alberta consumers and that company officials tried to cover up the deal.

ATCO has acknowledged it made mistakes and says the overpriced contract was entered into to help the First Nation build capacity in a new area of business.

The commission has told the Consumer's Coalition of Alberta that it's too early in the process for it to be part of the talks.

But it says if a settlement is proposed or a formal hearing is called, the coalition can ask again to submit its views on what penalties and restitution should be imposed on the company.

The Canadian Press

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