In defence of Roger Rondeau

How very alarming it is to see Jody Woodland, a former member of the Yukon Utilities Board, publicly criticize a public advocate like Roger Rondeau, of the Utilities Consumers' Group.

How very alarming it is to see Jody Woodland, a former member of the Yukon Utilities Board, publicly criticize a public advocate like Roger Rondeau, of the Utilities Consumers’ Group.

It really raises the question of the mindset of this previous regulator while it was supposed to be focusing on balancing “the interests of several classes of ratepayers with those of the utilities.” I have assisted Mr. Rondeau over the years in his role as intervenor and I can assure Woodland that he has indeed learned quite a bit about the regulation of electricity in the Yukon.

While Woodland criticizes Mr. Rondeau for not being satisfied with what happens on the regulation front, if he doesn’t do something to bring YUB decisions into the broader light, how else will ratepayers know what is happening?

While his methods are often unconventional, at least he gets people thinking about the issues.Given the decisions made during Woodland’s term at the YUB, perhaps a mirror might be in order before accusing Mr. Rondeau of not understanding the basics of rate of return regulation.

It is interesting to note that Woodland believes that there are only two ways for a utility to earn more than it forecasts during the rate setting exercise (i.e. control its costs or sell more power than forecasted).

I guess Woodland doesn’t realize that in the Yukon, while base rates are set to recover a set revenue requirement from ratepayers, the utilities are allowed to adjust rate riders in order to recover extra fuel costs and they are allowed to annually increase industrial rates due to a pre-set mechanism.

What Mr. Rondeau has been arguing for recently is a forum to allow the revenue recovery of the utilities to be limited to the amount that the YUB establishes and not let them keep all excess revenues due to increases to rate riders and industrial rates.

For Woodland’s benefit, it is actually simple math. Once the annual revenue requirement is established for the utilities as part of a general rate application review process administered by the Yukon Utilities Board, customer class rates are set to recover the amount of that revenue requirement that has been allocated to those classes.

To maintain the balance that Woodland apparently lives by, any increase to rates and revenue recovery from the industrial class should be matched by a revenue decrease from other customer classes to ensure that the utilities do not earn more than the fair return that has already been determined by the YUB.

What Woodland fails to acknowledge is that the regulators in other jurisdictions are not as influenced by government when trying to do the right thing. Earnings-sharing mechanisms are common in other jurisdictions in order to ensure that ratepayers are not being charged in excess of what is fair and to ensure that utilities are not allowed to make excess profits.

It sounds like Woodland could have used a few more lessons in standard rate-setting practices.

Ratepayers in the Yukon aren’t as gullible as Woodland might think. While base rates may not fluctuate, do you think that ratepayers haven’t noticed that their bills keep fluctuating because of various rate riders that have been added over the years? Perhaps, through the next general rate application process, non-industrial ratepayers in the Yukon will be given an opportunity to see the benefits of reduced rates that have been promised by the utilities when promoting the hookup of industrial customers.

At least they stand a better chance without having people who aren’t very knowledgeable in rate regulation balancing the positions being put forward.

Pat McMahon

Chatham, Ontario

Just Posted

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley has announced 30 new COVID-19 cases on June 21 for a total of 100 active cases. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Yukon experiencing community spread among unvaccinated: Hanley

Territory logs 30 new cases on June 21, for a total of 68 new cases this weekend

Lorraine Kuhn is seen with one of the many volleyball teams she coached. (Photo submitted by Sport Yukon)
The Yukon Sports Hall of Fame inducts the late Lorraine Kuhn

Lorraine Kuhn became the newest member of the Yukon Sports Hall of Fame for her work in growing volleyball amongst other sports

File Photo
A Yukon judge approved dangerous offender status for a man guilty of a string of assaults in 2020.
Yukon judge sentences dangerous offender to indefinite prison term

Herman Peter Thorn, 51, was given the sentence for 2020 assaults, history of violence

Crystal Schick/ Yukon News A former residential school in the Kaska Dena community of Lower Post will be demolished on June 21. Crystal Schick/ Yukon News
Lower Post residential school demolition postponed

On June 21, the old residential school in Lower Post will be demolished and new ground on a multi-cultural centre will be broken

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley announced 29 new COVID-19 cases on June 19 and community transmission among unvaccinated individuals. (Yukon News file)
Yukon logs record-high 29 new COVID-19 cases

F.H. Collins prom attendees and some Porter Creek Grade 9 students are instructed to self-isolate as community transmission sweeps through unvaccinated populations

Whitehorse City Hall (Yukon News file)
City news, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council at its June 14 meeting

Murray Arsenault sits in the drivers seat of his 1975 Bricklin SV1 in Whitehorse on June 16. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Bringing the 1975 Bricklin north

Murray Arsenault remembers his dad’s Bricklin, while now driving his own

A presumptive COVID case was found at Seabridge Gold’s 3 Aces project. (file photo)
Presumptive COVID-19 case reported at mine in southeast Yukon

A rapid antigen rest found a presumptive COVID case on an incoming individual arriving at the 3Aces project

Jonathan Antoine/Cabin Radio
Flooding in Fort Simpson on May 8.
Fort Simpson asked for military help. Two people showed up.

FORT SIMPSON—Residents of a flooded Northwest Territories village expected a helping hand… Continue reading

A woman was rescued from the Pioneer Ridge Trail in Alaska on June 16. (Photo courtesy/AllTrails)
Alaska hiker chased off trail by bears flags down help

ANCHORAGE (AP)—An Alaska hiker who reported needing help following bear encounters on… Continue reading

Two participants cross the finish line at the City of Whitehorse Kids Triathlon on June 12 with Mayor Dan Curtis on hand to present medals. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
2021 Kids’ Triathlon draws 76 young athletes

Youth ages five to 14 swim, run and bike their way to finish line

NDP MP Mumilaaq Qaqqaq rises in the House of Commons, in Ottawa on May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
‘Unacceptable’ that Inuk MP felt unsafe in House of Commons, Miller says

OTTAWA—It’s a “sad reflection” on Canada that an Inuk MP feels she’s… Continue reading

Lily Witten performs her Canadian Nationals beam routine on June 14. John Tonin/Yukon News
Three Yukon gymnasts break 20-year Nationals absence

Bianca Berko-Malvasio, Maude Molgat and Lily Witten competed at the Canadian Nationals – the first time in 20 years the Yukon’s been represented at the meet

Most Read