Under a new Bill introduced in Alberta, Canada, electricity and gas retailers in the state will be liable to pay hefty fines if they fail to settle customer billing complaints. Bill 13 now gives the Alberta Utilities Commission the right to levy penalties that can amount to $10,000 per day for the violation of the bill. As per sources, mounting complaints in the last few years has prompted the government to take such a legislative action. Apparently, there have been instances when a customer received 16 gas bills in a single day or a woman who never had an account with energy retailer, Direct Energy, received energy bills for a home she had not lived in for the last 7 years. In yet another shocking incident a university student was held payable for the gas used by her entire apartment building instead of just her suite. Albertas current rules only penalized retailers if they failed to provide reliable electricity or gas, or if they breached rules set by the Alberta Electric System Operator. The legislation did not mention anything regarding customer complaints. Issues however had come to a head over 2014 to 2017 when the Alberta government received 13000 calls and 2000 emails complaining about billing errors, many of them related to Direct Energy. Sources cite that Bill 13 will promptly levy heavy penalties for such mistakes which were previously solved only through lengthy and costly formal hearings. Instead, the Alberta Utilities Commission plans to allocate some of the proceeds collected in the form of penalties back to the customers. Alberta Energy Minister Marg McCuaig-Boyd has reportedly said that the bill will prompt companies to pay attention to things and be responsible on their end. She added that it also gives the power to consumers to retrieve the money they have been wrongly billed for. Wendy Tynan,public affairs manager for Canadian operations of Direct Energy said that the company is in a stable state in billing and customer care and is ready to handle the new rules.
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