Municipal Utilities - User Guide

Setting Rates and Regulations

a) Rate Applications/Changes to Regulations

The Utility (i.e., the MEU) decides that a rate application is necessary. Based upon the circumstances, the Board may determine that a rate review is required. A rate study is prepared either by staff or an external consultant. The type of information that is required in a rate application includes: Proposed Electricity Rates and Revenue; System Description; Historical and Projected Financial Information.

The completed rate study must first be presented to Municipal Council (or an equivalent body) for a resolution authorizing that the application be filed with the Board for approval.

The Utility files with the Board a copy of the completed rate study along with copies of a petition, affidavit and resolution supporting the application.

Sample forms

Board staff then reviews the application and supporting documents. If additional information is required, Board staff will request clarification. Once the application is complete, the Board drafts a notice of the public hearing and after consulting with the MEU determines a date and location in the community for the hearing. The hearing date is usually eight to ten weeks following complete information being filed with the Board. This is necessary to allow time for advertising the notice and the process for intervention. The notice is forwarded to the Utility, and the Utility's consultants, if applicable, for verification. The notice further specifies a date by which Formal Intervenors should file their submissions with the Board and provides the Board's contact information if any individuals wish to provide comments.

The Board issues an Order which specifies the dates, as required by the Public Utilities Act, that the notice is to appear for three consecutive weeks in a local newspaper(s). The MEU is responsible for ensuring that the notice is published in the paper(s) on the specified date and is also responsible for payment of associated costs. Copies of the notice confirming it was placed in the paper on the dates specified in the Order are required to be filed at the start of the public hearing and are entered as exhibits, along with other pre-filed evidence.

The MEU must have copies of the rate study available at its offices and/or an agreed upon central location for public viewing during the application and hearing process.

The Board issues Information Requests ("IRs") to the MEU for response, generally within a two week period. The Board usually specifies the number of copies required to be filed. The responses to the IRs are identified as a pre-filed exhibit at the public hearing.

The Public Hearing process is generally as follows:

If Undertakings are requested during the hearing, the MEU is usually given a one to two week time period to respond. Undertakings are set out at the hearing and are confirmed, including the filing date, in a letter from the Board soon after the hearing date.

b) Pass Through for NSPI Rates

When NSPI has received Board approval to raise rates, this includes approval for an increase in NSPI’s municipal rate. In order to recover increased costs due to NSPI increases, and upon application by the MEU to the Board, the Board may amend the Rates without a public hearing for Domestic Service, Small General Service, General Service, Domestic Service Time-of-Day Rate, Industrial Rate, Street & Yard Lighting Rates, and Other Lighting & Miscellaneous Small Load Rates, based on a formula approved by the Board.

The MEU can apply to have the Board approve, without a hearing, an increase in its rates to allow the MEU to pass through the approved NSPI rates to its customers.

The MEU makes written application to the Board, including the following required information:

The MEU also files copies of a petition, affidavit and resolution of either the Municipal Council or other equivalent body supporting the application.

Sample forms

Board staff then reviews the application and supporting documents. Additional information may be required. If so, Board staff requests clarification through IRs.

After the Board has reviewed all of the required information, it issues an Order approving the schedule of rates.

Application Process by MEUs for Capital Expenditure

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.

There is no set or prescribed form for an MEU to use in requesting approval for a capital project. It can be as simple as a one page letter or a covering letter with several attachments or enclosures to describe the project. Major capital projects that occur infrequently such as a building, or a substation addition, will require a more detailed explanation than routine projects that occur on a regular, on-going basis. Generally, the Board requires the following information for any capital expenditure approval:

Receipt of an application for a capital expenditure approval is acknowledged by the Clerk of the Board. These applications are available on the website. 

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:

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