A study by the Fraser Institute has found that Alberta businesses pay some of the highest electricity prices in North America.

The market-oriented think-tank examined power prices in 119 Canadian and U.S. cities. It found that commercial customers pay up 18 per cent more for electricity than U.S. customers and small industrial customers face rates 30 per cent higher. Canadian residential customers pay 1.5 per cent more on average than U.S. residential customers.

Prices for businesses in Calgary, Edmonton, Charlottetown and Halifax are the highest among the 12 cities studied in Canada.

Spokesperson Kenneth Green said the high cost of power in Alberta should guide future decisions about what electricity projects are approved by regulators and politicians. Alberta could help lower power prices by encouraging greater investment in natural gas-fired electricity, he said.

"Given that Alberta produces natural gas," Green said. "Then the price change should radiate down to the consumer – or the cost change should radiate down to the consumer – in terms of lower rates and lower prices."

Coal is traditionally the biggest source of Alberta's electricity.