You wouldn’t let a stranger choose your mortgage, so why would you let ‘em choose your home’s energy plan? And yet, about half of all Albertans do just that, and get their electricity and natural gas through the government’s default Regulated Rate Option (RRO).
In recent years though, more and more Albertans have asked themselves that same question, and made the choice to move away from the default RRO and into more strategic plans with energy retailers to keep costs more manageable.
If you’ve never paid super close attention to the difference between the RRO and an energy retailer, let’s break it down. Here’s what you need to know about the RRO, and why you might want to re-evaluate your energy plan.
What is the RRO?
RRO stands for “Regulated Rate Option,” and it’s the default option for residential and commercial users who use energy in Alberta. The RRO rate is determined (that’s where the ‘regulated’ part comes in) by the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC).
The AUC makes sure Alberta’s electricity and natural gas prices are reasonable for consumers, while still sustainably profitable for the service providers who maintain the province’s energy infrastructure. That includes over 26,000 km (16,155 miles) of transmission lines to keep the lights on for over 4 million people!
Their mandate is to remain impartial, and treat both customers and suppliers fairly. The AUC calculates the RRO using the current market price of electricity or natural gas, global market conditions (affected by weather, supply and demand, etc.), and the cost of transmission (getting all that energy from its source to your home). The rate is made public at the beginning of each month and if you’re on the RRO, that’s the rate you’ll pay for the month.
How do I know if I'm on the RRO?
You’re likely on the RRO if you haven’t entered an agreement with an energy retailer, like ATCOenergy. The easiest way to find out is to take a look at your energy bill. If you see the word ‘regulated’ or ‘RRO’ on your statement, or if your bill comes from a company with ‘regulated services’ in their name, then you know you’re still on the default plan. If you’re using both electricity and natural gas, you’ll also be getting separate bills for each fuel.
Why is the RRO less than ideal?
The RRO was designed as a safety net so everyone in Alberta, regardless of location or credit history, can have access to energy. But since it’s a default option, it gives you less control over your plan. The RRO doesn’t come with the perks, flexibility or rate choices of a retail plan.
The RRO rate is set monthly, and that’s what you pay. If there’s anything we’ve learned recently, it’s that volatility isn’t much fun. Market prices have shifted drastically in recent months, meaning major events could drastically impact rates without warning.
Isn’t there a cap on the RRO rate?
There used to be a cap of 6.8¢/kWh, but it was removed in May 2021, leaving RRO customers exposed to market rates. With these changes, your bills may be unpredictable and higher than what you’d like to be paying.
But did you know, even while the rate cap was in place, there were still better options and lower rates available through retailers?
How do I find out what my options are?
Oh, the beauty of choices! In Alberta, you can choose a competitive retailer with offerings that make sense for you and your household. If you choose ATCOenergy as your retailer, you’ll have the option to choose guaranteed or wholesale rates, giving you more control over your energy choices and more control over your monthly billing!
With a provider like ATCOenergy, the guaranteed rate lets you pay a fixed rate for every kWh or GJ you use. Your rate will stay the same, and you’ll see smaller fluctuations in your monthly energy bill based on your consumption. Guaranteed rates might not always be the lowest rates, but they provide the stability that’s easier to budget for long term. And who doesn’t love stability?
Or, you can still choose to ride the market with the ATCO Advantage Rate (variable) plan. Over time, average market prices tend to be lower than guaranteed rates. For a flat daily fee, you can access Alberta’s wholesale rates with no added markup, but you’re always free to switch to a more predictable and stable, guaranteed rate if you prefer.
How easy is it to choose a retailer?
Here’s the great news — picking a retailer is relatively easy. If you’re ready to have more choice and control over your energy plan, our local ATCOenergy advisors would love to chat! Or you can sign up online or via web chat. You can be set up with a new energy plan with ATCOenergy in as little as 10 minutes.
If you’re on the RRO, now might be the time to break up with the basic offering and begin looking for an energy retailer that has your back. Reach out for information and to see if ATCOenergy is the right fit for you.