03/22/2012 12:36 EDT | Updated 05/22/2012 05:12 EDT

Alberta reviews retail electricity market, says consumers wary of contracts

EDMONTON - Alberta is looking at how it can smooth out the steep ups and downs of retail electricity prices.

The government has appointed an independent committee to look at why the deregulated electricity market is so volatile.

Energy Minister Ted Morton says this price volatility is a concern for many families.

However, NDP member Rachel Notley says the Conservatives aren't taking the situation seriously.

"Another day, another review," she said in a news release. "It's another panel that's stacked with industry insiders — not the best agents for change."

About 70 per cent of Albertans pay variable electricity rates, a sign the government says shows many people don't want to sign contracts with power companies.

The committee will be lead by Ted Pound of the Utilities Consumer Advocate Advisory Board, and it is to report back to government this summer.

Individual consumers can provide input to the review through an online survey that won't be available until after the expected provincial election.

"Albertans will find out after the election that the Conservatives will let power corporations continue to make obscene profits on the backs of Albertans," said Notley.

"The system is broken. Deregulation has cost each Alberta family thousands of dollars."