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Letter: Utilities board needs to follow its own guidelines

Utilities board needs to follow its own guidelines

Utilities board needs to follow its own guidelines

In August, the Yukon Utilities Consumers’ Group (YUCG) wrote a letter to the editor to notify the public about rulings from the Yukon Utilities Board (the electricity utility regulator) negatively impacting our electrical rates.

We would now like to take this opportunity to give you some real examples of this:

1. The YUCG made an argument that Yukon Energy Corporation (YEC) is using their computer simulated “term sheet” to determine the outcome of a deferral account, the Low Water Reserve Fund. This deferral is to place money into a reserve for times of drought or the absence of enough hydroelectricity. It comes from yearly overpayment or possibly underpayment of rates paid by ratepayers for the difference in forecasted diesel usage to the real amounts used.

In a prior board decision, the board determined that this term sheet or other simulated forecast methods could not be used unless it was “made available for testing.” This simulated model has never been officially tested, yet YEC continues to use it. And the board allows it.

In this latest review and variance request by the YUCG, this argument was obviously not considered by this board. It was conspicuously absent, in their latest determination, so they could not face litigation on this matter.

2. A second, of many partial decisions made by the utilities board, was not to compel ATCO Electric Yukon (AEY) to file identifiable documents when claiming more money from ratepayers for yet another deferral account, the fuel rider, or “Rider F” on your bills. This account allows AEY and YEC to collect/return the difference in the forecasted cost of diesel or liquefied natural gas with the real costs they end up paying for these thermal products each year.

AEY has failed to file proper documentation to the board since a decision by this same board ordered them to follow certain formats in recording these variances and presenting these in reports to the board and interested parties every three months.

When YUCG filed a complaint on this issue, the board recognized this was taking place, but did nothing to hold AEY responsible for their past discrepancies. Without this accountability, AEY basically charged ratepayers what they desired in the fuel rider.

The utilities board — the people who oversee AEY and YEC — far too often do not follow their own guidelines and decisions. This has negatively impacted on our electricity rates now and into the future. When it comes to following orders by the regulator, if it concerns an intervener ratepayer group these rules and orders must be followed to a tee. But when it comes to the utilities, the board waffles.

You see, the utilities can use our money to take the board to court for disagreements, while the board also uses our money to defend their decisions. YUCG does not have these finances nor the expertise to take them to court.

So, when you see members of the utility board ask them who they represent: the ratepayers or the utility corporations?


Roger Rondeau

Yukon Utilities Consumers’ Group