For the past three days, Yukon Energy officials have been before our regulator, the Yukon Utilities Board (YUB), to answer questions about why we are requesting a rate increase for 2012 and 2013.
Truth be told, this quasi-judicial process can be pretty technical and the average person would not be faulted for not grasping 100 percent of the concepts discussed. However that doesn't mean these hearings are not worth attending. They are open to the public and they provide groups and individuals with an opportunity to ask a wide variety of questions related to our funding request (you do need to register as an intervenor to be able to ask questions at these hearings). These sessions allow you to have a better understanding of the direction in which Yukon Energy is heading, and why. The more you arm yourself with information, the better able you are to draw informed conclusions about whether Yukon Energy is addressing the territory's electricity needs in the best ways possible.
Here's how the process works in Yukon. A utility (in this case it was Yukon Energy but Yukon Electrical Company Limited must follow the same process) files an application with the YUB asking for rate/regulation changes. The application includes evidence in support of the request(s) the utility is making.
The Board then issues an order setting the dates for the hearing, and outlining significant milestones along the way, such as the date for filing information requests and responses. The Board will also outline how the public is to be notified about the hearing.
It's usually a period of several months between the time the application is filed and the start of the actual hearing. In our case, we filed the application in April of this year, and the hearings didn't take place until this week. For less complicated matters the time period may be shorter, depending on the Board's schedule.
In the time before the hearing, anyone who wants to be an intervenor must make their request to the YUB. Once the intervenor list is finalized, both the intervenors and the YUB can ask the utility for information in writing about certain aspects of the application. This time round, Yukon Energy received more than 1,000 requests for information, which we answered in the weeks leading up to the hearings.
By the time the hearing date arrives, alot of relevent information is already 'in the record'. The hearing itself gives the YUB and intervenors a chance to further question Yukon Energy. During this week's hearing, the YUB and five interveners had questions for Yukon Energy representatives. The intervenors included the Yukon Electrical Company Limited, the City of Whitehorse, the Utilities Consumers' Group, the Yukon Conservation Society, and Leading Edge.
With the hearings behind us, the YUB will now take all the information it has received and evidence it has heard, and issue an Order regarding our rate increase request. We likely will not see an Order from the Board until late winter or spring of next year.
If this has peaked your interest and you want to read the transcripts of the proceedings, they are on the Yukon Utilities Board's website.
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