ATCO Gas has largely exited the retail energy and gas market within the last few years, choosing instead to focus on acting as a wires service and natural gas transmission service for Direct Energy customers. Its responsibilities include maintenance and repair of electrical transmission lines and continually developing improved monitoring of energy and gas usage for billing purposes.
ATCO Gas History
ATCO Group (TSX: ACO.X) is headquartered in Calgary, Alberta. It was originally founded as Alberta Trailer Hire by S.D. Southern. Southern initially invested a total of $1,077 into the company, which offered the rental of 15 utility trailers in the Calgary area. Southern later expanded the business to include trailer sales, becoming Alberta Trailer Company, and later ATCO. As of the early 1960s, ATCO’s operations had expanded through North America and into Australia as well.
ATCO Industries Ltd went public in 1968 on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX). In the 1970s, its operations grew to include the production and distribution of natural gas and petroleum products, and by the 1980s was also offering a range of electricity generation and transmission services.
ATCO’s 1980 purchase of a controlling interest in Canadian Utilities Ltd (formerly Canadian Western Natural Gas, founded 1912) of Calgary resulted in ATCO’s total assets exceeding $1 billion for the first time.
In 2004, after the deregulation of Alberta’s gas and electricity markets in the previous decades, ATCO spun off the retail divisions of its ATCO Gas and ATCO Electric companies, selling them off to Direct Energy Marketing Ltd. Direct Energy continues to offer ATCO Gas and ATCO Electric services to residential and business customers through its regulated company Direct Energy Regulated Services.
With the sale of its retail operations, ATCO (as ATCO Gas and ATCO Electric) focused on expanding and maintaining the transmission and distribution networks for electricity and natural gas in Alberta, facilitating the delivery of those resources to energy retailers.
In 2012, ATCO Electric split its operations into two divisions, transmission and distribution.
ATCO was in the news in 2014 due to its troubled attempts to sell AltaLink to Berkshire Hathaway Energy, a firm based in the United States.
Despite the spinoff of its retail operations, ATCO has continued to improve the experience of electric and natural gas end users, introducing electronic Automated Meter Reading in 2011 to improve the accuracy of billing and communication with end customers.