Businesses are being invited by an Alberta electricity consultant to join a class-action lawsuit that he is organizing against TransAlta.

David Gray, an electricity consultant in Edmonton and former director of Alberta's Utilities Consumer Advocate, is organizing the court action, but has not yet hired legal representation. 

He hopes to file the lawsuit by the end of August. He says he has already had in from more than 200 businesses interested in joining the lawsuit.

"Basically anybody who was on the default commercial rate, they're all affected. Anybody who was on a flow-through rate through a retailer was affected," Gray said. "So we've got everybody from mom and pop shops up to manufacturing installations."

The Alberta Utilities Commission released a report earlier this week that concluded TransAlta deliberately timed power outages at power plants at peak times in order to drive up electricity prices.

"That hard part is already done. The part we are about to do now is account for each particular customer and go seeking some restitution," Gray said.

The provincial regulator ruled TransAlta manipulated power prices during the winter of 2010 to 2011. The shutdowns by Canada's largest investor-owned power producer and wholesale marketer, cost consumers anywhere from 10 to 60 per cent more during this time. 

Gray estimates that depending on how much electricity was actually used, medium-sized businesses paid between $2,000 and $5,000 dollars more than they normally would have. A utilities commission report estimates that $100 million worth of damage was done, he said. 

"The real issue is the amount of damage they did to everyone who was buying from the market," he said. "Most directly [impacted] are commercial or industrial customers. Many of them are either on the default supply rate or on a rate that is whole or in part market based."

Gray is hoping to get 20,000 companies involved in the lawsuit.


  • An earlier version of this story incorrectly said the lawsuit had already been launched.
    Jul 30, 2015 1:43 PM MT