Setting of Rates and Regulations
The Clerk of the Board, in consultation with the Utility (i.e., the MEU), sets a date for a public hearing on an application. This application and date is advertised in three weekly inserts in the local paper, and at times in a regional or provincial newspaper, if appropriate. The advertisement gives detailed information as to what the MEU is seeking and provides the time and location of the public hearing.
- The notice ensures that customers and/or the public - either those wishing to participate as a Formal Intervenor or those wishing to speak at the hearing in an informal manner - can request information filed and are advised of the deadline by which comments/objections must be filed with the Board.
- The public hearing may be heard by a Board Member alone or a panel of Members. One of the panel Members is designated as Chair of the hearing and is responsible to outline the process involving the hearing and maintaining an appropriate environment for interested parties to make their presentation.
- Depending on the nature of the procedure, the public hearing before the Board may be conducted more informally than that required by a Court.
- Generally, the Chair opens the hearing by explaining what the application is about, and asks all parties to identify themselves. The Chair will also outline the hearing process, including the order of submissions by the applicant, Formal Intervenors, if any, witnesses and speakers wishing to make comments at the hearing.
- The Chair will ask the MEU for proof of the advertisement(s) of the hearing. Submissions that are filed, including those from interested parties, are identified as exhibits. Witnesses are sworn in.
- The MEU gives its presentation to the Board which can include calling witnesses to support the application. The MEU will answer questions which are posed by the Formal Intervenors and the Board. Following that, the Formal Intervenors present their case and answer questions posed by the MEU, other Formal Intervenors and the Board. The Informal Intervenors then provide their comments to the Board. When all the comments have been received, the MEU has the option to respond verbally at the end of the hearing or later in writing to the Board, or both.
- Sometimes, Undertakings are given by the parties (i.e., a promise to provide additional information that a witness or a party was unable to provide at the hearing) by a certain deadline set by the Chair.
- The Chair invites attendees to sign a document with the Hearing Clerk if they wish to receive a copy of the Board’s decision when it is issued or be notified when it is issued. The decision is reserved and the hearing is adjourned.
- Subsequently, the Board issues a written decision with respect to the application. The decision includes reasons for the Board’s conclusions.
The decision is provided to the parties and is also posted on the Board’s website.
Please refer to the User Guide for Municipal Electric Utilities for information on how increases in NSPI rates flow through to the regulated MEUs which purchase power from NSPI.
Approval Process for Capital Expenditures
Capital assets include property, plant and equipment that are used and useful in the supply of electrical power by an MEU.
As set out in s. 35 of the Public Utilities Act, Board approval is required, in advance, for each capital acquisition or construction project costing $250,000 or more. In addition, Board approval is required for any capital projects for which the proposed source of funding includes the MEU’s depreciation funds, any utility reserve fund, or debt.
Capital costs requested for Board approval may include expenditures such as the purchase price of the asset; construction costs (materials, labour, project management, overhead, etc.); site preparation costs; engineering costs; professional fees; and interest during construction.
Receipt of an application for a capital expenditure approval is acknowledged by the Clerk of the Board. These applications are available on the website.
Information requests (“IRs”) are developed for clarification on certain aspects of the application or to provide information if it is deemed to be incomplete. These IRs can be asked over the telephone, sent by email, or more formally sent out by the Clerk. Often the IRs are informal, and dealt with through communication between a Board Advisory Staff member and the applicant MEU.
The MEU is expected to respond in a reasonable time, e.g., within a three week period.
When the Board receives the answers to the IRs they are reviewed for completeness. If required, a second set of IRs can be issued. This step does not happen frequently.
The Board then reviews the material before it and determines whether the application should be approved, or denied, and the MEU is advised accordingly.
Submission of a Complaint
All complaints must be in writing (email, fax or regular mail) and directed to the office of the Clerk of the Board. The Complainant must identify in sufficient detail the matter which is the subject of the complaint. The processes under which complaints are heard are set out in ss. 83 - 89 of the Public Utilities Act.
Process followed by the Board for Complaints:
- The Clerk of the Board acknowledges the written complaint by letter which is copied to the MEU along with a copy of the complaint.
- Complaints filed with the Board are a matter of public record and information about them can be accessed through the internet or through the offices of the Board. This means that other persons can see information about the complaint. If a party wishes, a request may be made to the Board to hold information in confidence by making an application under Regulatory Rule 12. Further information can be obtained from the Board Clerk.
- The Board reviews the complaint and obtains any additional information required from the MEU and the Complainant. IRs to the MEU and the Complainant are issued by the Board and written responses to these IRs are necessary in order to proceed with the complaint.
- The Board reviews the material before it and, based on the information provided, determines whether further investigation is warranted. If the Board decides no further investigation is warranted, a letter is sent to both parties stating the reasons for this determination.
- If, after reviewing the file, the Board determines that further investigation is warranted, it shall conduct a more detailed investigation.
- After reviewing the results of the further investigation, the Board determines whether a hearing is warranted. A letter stating the decision is sent to both parties.
- If the Board determines, following either the initial review or further investigation, that an issue has been raised which should be heard, the MEU and the Complainant shall be notified of this decision and provided with an Order which sets out the nature of the complaint and gives the MEU an opportunity to satisfy the complaint within 20 days of the service of the Order. If the MEU fails to satisfy the complaint within the time frame set out in the Order, a formal hearing will be set down.
- The Board will then consider the evidence presented and issue its written decision.