BCUC Releases Draft Report for Indigenous Utilities Regulation Inquiry for Public Comment
VANCOUVER, British Columbia, Nov. 04, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — On Friday, November 1, 2019, following an open and transparent engagement process, the British Columbia Utilities Commission (BCUC) issued its Draft Report for the Inquiry into the regulation of Indigenous energy utilities.
The Inquiry process included feedback from 21 Registered Interveners and attendees at 11 Community Input Sessions, as well as eight letters of comment. Based on the comments and submissions received during the Inquiry engagement process, the Panel has released its Draft Report with proposed recommendations regarding the potential regulatory framework for Indigenous-owned and operated energy utilities in British Columbia (BC).The Draft Report is now available for public review and comment until March 2, 2020.The BCUC will host six Draft Report Workshops around BC in November and December 2019, to gather feedback on the Draft Report and proposed recommendations. The BCUC is seeking input on a number of specific questions listed in Section 7.2 of the Draft Report. The Draft Report , the Draft Report Summary and the schedule of Draft Report Workshops are available on the BCUC website.In addition to providing input at the Draft Report Workshops, the public may submit written comments on the report until March 2, 2020. The BCUC will provide an interim status report to the BC Government by December 31, 2019, and a Final Report to the Minister Responsible for the Hydro and Power Authority Act by April 30, 2020. BackgroundOn March 11, 2019, the Lieutenant Governor in Council, pursuant to section 5(1) of the Utilities Commission Act (UCA), directed the British Columbia Utilities Commission (BCUC) to provide recommendations to the BC Government regarding the regulation of Indigenous utilities in British Columbia. The terms of the Inquiry are outlined in Order in Council (OIC) No. 108. The BCUC established the Inquiry on March 19, 2019 by Order
G-62-19.The inquiry is exploring and seeking feedback on a number of important questions, including:What are the characteristics of an “Indigenous Utility” with respect to:The ownership and operation of the utility;What services are provided;Who the services are provided to; and/or,The location or area served by the utility?Should Indigenous utilities be regulated or not? And if so, how?If they should be regulated, should they be regulated by the UCA or another mechanism?If unregulated, how will the interests of indigenous utility ratepayers be protected?Currently, under the UCA most utilities with a connection to an Indigenous community are regulated by the BCUC as public utilities. Some utilities have requested exemptions from existing regulatory requirements. In June and July 2019, the BCUC held a series of ten Community Input Sessions throughout British Columbia to hear comments on the issues raised in the Inquiry. The BCUC hosted an additional Community Input Session to coincide with the BC Assembly of First Nations 16th Annual General Assembly held in Vancouver on September 18, 2019. Registered Interveners had the opportunity to file written evidence, submit and respond to information requests, and submit final arguments. The BCUC received 19 written evidence submissions from Registered Interveners who represented a range of Indigenous Nations, special interest groups and existing utilities.The following Draft Report Workshop dates and locations have been confirmed, anyone wishing to participate in person is encouraged to register in advance via email to Commission.Secretary@bcuc.com or by telephone at 1-800-663-1385. The following Draft Report Workshops have been confirmed:For more information about this Inquiry, please see the proceeding page on the BCUC website here.About the BCUCThe BCUC is a regulatory agency responsible for the oversight of energy utilities and compulsory auto insurance in British Columbia. It is the BCUC’s role to balance the interests of customers with the interests of the businesses it regulates. The BCUC carries out fair and transparent reviews of matters within its jurisdiction and considers public input where public interest is impacted.CONTACT INFORMATION:Krissy Van Loon