Utilities board clobbers consumers

Utilities board clobbers consumers Open letter to Yukon Utilities Board: Yukon electrical ratepayers are appalled and confused at the decisions made by this board to increase our rates by some 21 per cent with a couple of fell swoops of your pens. This r

Open letter to Yukon Utilities Board:

Yukon electrical ratepayers are appalled and confused at the decisions made by this board to increase our rates by some 21 per cent with a couple of fell swoops of your pens. This results in an average bill increase of over $27 per month, totally out of reach for many Yukoners.

Ratepayers are appalled because you have blessed Yukon Energy and Yukon Electrical to raise our rates by this onerous amount in one single month. And you are not done yet!

Regulators, like yourself, in other jurisdictions of Canada ensure some type of mitigation efforts to ratepayers if rate adjustments result in bill impacts in excess of 10 per cent. Yet you have done absolutely nothing to help out Yukon ratepayers. Even the cabinet order from your own government tells you to “approve rates in accordance with principles established by regulatory authorities of the Government of Canada or provinces regulating utilities.” Why do you not conform to standard regulatory principles when making your decisions?

We are confused by how you continually allow the utility companies to file rate-increase applications in mid-test-year, setting up your permissive indifference to retroactive rate making, then applying interim increases to our rates. If standard accepted rate principles were applied in the Yukon we would not have this dilemma, i.e. apply before the test year so we do not have to go through all this costly exercise in futility.

With this process, when a concluding order is finally announced for any rate hearing there is no way to track how final rates are determined.

In your haste to approve this increase so it could be implemented July 1, with no formulas nor proper excel charts, these proposed rate changes were not open nor accountable. Common sense suggests that this particular order by the board did not adhere to regulatory standards for any proposed rate changes (i.e. tomorrow this type of grey analysis will not be acceptable, but today it is).

And now you are giving the same privilege to the other utility, Yukon Electrical. Not only had we continually argued against this type of oversight, but the Town of Watson Lake has now joined our plight.

There is also confusion of how the industrial rates are considered by your board. The Yukon government rate policy directive OIC 2012/068 states that “rate adjustments for retail customers and major industrial customers apply equally.”

Our calculations conclude this does not appear to be the case for Yukon Energy. In the Yukon Electrical interim increase order it does not even appear that industrial customers are included in this 6.5 per cent rate increase as the utility does not service any industrial customer.

You will say we had the opportunity to bring this forward before, but Yukoners expect that this board will at least follow directions and principles from its own government.

Your board is mandated to act on behalf of the “public good.” Accordingly, your Yukon public needs some answers to clarify your actions.

Roger Rondeau

Utilities Consumers’ Group