Rein in expenses at the Yukon Utilities Board

Rein in expenses at the Yukon Utilities Board Open letter to Mike Nixon, former minister of justice, and Dan Cable, policy director for the Department of Justice: Well over a year ago, the Utilities Consumers' Group wrote you a letter requesting informa

Open letter to Mike Nixon, former minister of justice, and Dan Cable, policy director for the Department of Justice:

Well over a year ago, the Utilities Consumers’ Group wrote you a letter requesting information of why a non-Yukoner was chosen as chair of the Yukon Utilities Board and what exactly are the extra costs of having someone living outside the territory on a board? In the meantime, this person still remains the chair of this board! And you have never given us a valid explanation on these questions.

Not long after this letter, our group filed an access-to-information request for the financial records of the utilities board regarding costs associated with the last Yukon Energy’s general rate application, as we had witnessed that this board’s costs are continually escalating. We received a convoluted package of all the board costs for that year!

After reviewing, classifying and auditing this package, we wrote first to the utilities board and quickly received a response shuffling the onus to the Department of Justice, stating they are the ones responsible for compiling all the costs associated with this board.

There appeared to be some serious variances in our audit of this record from what was charged to ratepayers in Board Order 2013-08:

* Payment of costs for board members to attend two conferences outside the Yukon;

* The lack of proper invoicing for the billing to the Alberta Utilities Commission staff for their wages and expenses;

* Appearance of excessive payment to legal counsel without any invoices attached;

* Excessive per diem meal costs and for rental of car by Alberta Utilities Commission staff while at hearing; and

* Extra costs of travel, accommodation and meals for members of the board to travel back and forth, one coming from outside of Whitehorse and the chair from outside the territory. (We now have a less costly method of communication with teleconferencing!)

To this date we have never received a response from the Department of Justice nor the minister.

We did suggest some redresses on controlling the costs of regulating the electrical utilities. In the longer term, we need to start developing a new means of regulation that is more cost efficient and modernized. We documented several concepts on this, in accompaniment with an attachment of our research paper on electricity regulatory reform in the Yukon.

In the short term we should look at alternatives to the high costs of the Alberta Utilities Commission contract for legal and consultants (i.e. do much more of this decision-making in-house) and hire a half-time executive secretary at our utilities board charged with not only the secretarial duties but separately tracking and documenting the financial records of board costs and assuring all costs charged to the ratepayers of electricity are open and accountable.

Maybe, just maybe this will get a response!

Roger Rondeau

Utilities Consumers’ Group

Just Posted

Whether the dust jacket of this historical novel is the Canadian version (left) or the American (right), the readable content within is the same. (Michael Gates)
History Hunter: New novel a gripping account of the gold rush

Stampede: Gold Fever and Disaster in the Klondike is an ‘enjoyable and readable’ account of history

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Your furnace and your truck need to go

Perhaps the biggest commitment in the NDP deal with the Liberals was boosting the Yukon’s climate target

Air North president Joe Sparling said the relaxing of self-isolation rules will be good for the business, but he still expects a slow summer. (Mike Thomas/Yukon News)
Air North president expects a slow summer

Air North president Joe Sparling suspects it will be a long time before things return to pre-pandemic times

XX
WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World for May 14, 2021.… Continue reading

Copies of the revised 2021-22 budget documents tabled in the legislature on May 14. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Liberals introduce new budget with universal dental and safe supply funding

The new items were added to secure the support of the NDP.

Caribou pass through the Dempster Highway area in their annual migration. A recent decision by the privacy commissioner has recommended the release of some caribou collar re-location data. (Justin Kennedy/Yukon News)
Privacy commissioner recommends release of caribou location data

Department of Environment says consultation with its partners needed before it will consider release

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Family pleased youth will be able to get Pfizer vaccine

Angela Drainville, mother of two, is anxious for a rollout plan to come forward

Safe at home office in Whitehorse on May 10, 2021. (John Tonin/Yukon News)
Federal government provides $1.6 million for Yukon anti-homelessness work

Projects including five mobile homes for small communities received funding.

Drilling at Northern Tiger’s 3Ace gold project in 2011. Randi Newton argues that mining in the territory can be reshaped. (Yukon government/file)
Editorial: There’s momentum for mining reform

CPAWS’ Randi Newton argues that the territory’s mining legislations need a substantial overhaul

At its May 10 meeting, Whitehorse city council approved the subdivision for the Kwanlin Dün First Nation’s business park planned in Marwell. (Submitted)
KDFN business park subdivision approved

Will mean more commercial industrial land available in Whitehorse

Main Street in Whitehorse on May 4. Whitehorse city council has passed the first two readings of a bylaw to allow pop-up patios in city parking spaces. Third reading will come forward later in May. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Whitehorse council pursuing restaurant patio possibilities

Council passes first two readings for new patio bylaw

Neil Hartling, the Tourism Industry Association of the Yukon president, left, said the new self-isolation guidelines for the Yukon are a ‘ray of hope’ for tourism operators. (Ian Stewart/Yukon News file)
Yukon tourism operators prepared for ‘very poor summer’ even with relaxed border rules

Toursim industry responds to new guidelines allowing fully vaccinated individuals to skip mandatory self-isolation.

Most Read