Municipal Utilities - Overview
Pursuant to the Public Utilities Act, the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board ("NSUARB" or "Board") exercises general supervision over all electric utilities operating as public utilities within the Province. This authority includes setting rates, tolls, charges, and regulations for the provision of service and approval of capital expenditures in excess of $250,000. In addition, the Board is also authorized to deal with any other matters, including complaints, the Board feels are necessary to properly exercise its mandate. The Public Utilities Act allows the recovery of all reasonable and prudent operating expenses, annual depreciation expense, and a return on rate base which is deemed to be just and reasonable.
There are six regulated municipal electric utilities ("MEUs"), all of which are owned and operated by a municipality or a separate commission. Each Utility has schedules of rates and regulations approved by the Board. The Board must approve all amendments to these schedules which generally requires a public hearing.
The municipal utilities generally purchase most of their power from Nova Scotia Power Inc. ("NSPI"), but may generate power for their own use, or enter into contracts to acquire supply from independent power producers. The Board has approved a separate process for the MEUs in order to pass through rate increases once an increase in rates for NSPI has been approved.
When approving capital expenditures, the Board assesses, among other things, the need for the proposed project, the reasonableness of the expenditure, and the financial impact on the Utility and its customers. When a customer complaint is investigated, the focus is on whether the regulations, as approved by the Board, have been followed on a fair and equitable basis.
The Board Regulatory Rules outline the requirements relating to practice and procedure before the NSUARB for matters relating to water utilities. The Public Utilities Act and the Board Regulatory Rules can be accessed through the "Statutes" and "Rules and Regulations" buttons located on the top of this screen.
Board policy requires a decision to be issued within 90 days from the date of last filing, subject to unusual circumstances. Under the Utility and Review Board Act, decisions may be appealed to the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal on any question of jurisdiction or law, within 30 days from the date of the Board Order.
Past decisions of the Board can be accessed through the "Decisions" button located on the top of this screen.
Descriptions as to how the Board deals with rate applications, approval of capital expenditures and complaints are set out in the User Guide For Customers/Public and the User Guide for Municipal Electric Utilities.