UCP appoint oil and gas executive to oversee electricity operator

Yesterday, Sonya Savage, the Alberta minister of energy, announced a new chair for the Alberta Electric System Operator.

Yesterday, Sonya Savage, the Alberta minister of energy, announced a new chair for the Alberta Electric System Operator.

The AESO is responsible for the day-to-day operation of the provincial electricity grid and facilitates the province’s electricity market. It also plans for future electricity needs.

Taking over as the new chair is Karl Johannson, who had been a member of the board since just April, when he joined with fellow new board members Ann-Marie Osinski and Karl Johannson.

He takes over from Will Bridge, who was board chair for less than 2 years.

As a board member of the AESO, Johannson was eligible to receive a $27,500 annual retainer and $1,000 for each AESO board and committee meeting he attended.

For comparison, the last salary reported for a board chair by the AESO was in 2018 for Linda Chambers. Her salary then was $92,400.

Johannson’s work background includes president of natural gas pipelines with TransCanada Corporation (now TC Energy)—where he is now an advisor—as well as a board member with ClearStream Energy Services.

Also in Savage’s announcement was the notice that she was “reappointing” Derek Olmstead as Market Surveillance Administrator for 5 years. Which is kind of a weird way to frame it.

As I reported back in April, Olmstead hadn’t been appointed as MSA for 5 years, so it’s not strictly a 5-year reappointment, which the wording could imply.

Olmstead had been appointed as an interim MSA for a 9-moth period to specifically focus on market surveillance and enforcement. He wasn’t even halfway through the interim period.

He has been with the MSA since January 2019, first as director of capacity market, then director of markets, and finally as director of enforcement. He also served as an economic advisor to the AESO in 2018, and prior to that, another 6 years with the MSA.

In 2018, Olmstead donated $1,000 to the UCP.

The salary for the MSA is between $184,365 and $249,435.

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By Kim Siever

Kim Siever is an independent journalist based in Lethbridge, Alberta. He writes daily news stories, focusing on municipal, provincial, and federal politics, specializing in investigative journalism and critical analysis from a leftist political lens. He also writes regular editorials on general politics and social issues.

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