Manitoba Hydro is asking the Manitoba Court of Appeal to review and overturn certain aspects of a recent Public Utilities Board (PUB) order.
In a leave to appeal filed earlier today, the Crown corporation is requesting the court consider jurisdictional issues with two aspects of PUB Order 90/18, namely directing the corporation to create a new special rate class for residential customers on First Nations reserves, as well as directing the corporation to hire a consultant to assess the implementation of various asset management initiatives.
“We believe that the PUB exceeded its jurisdictional authority by ordering the creation of a special rate class which contravenes Manitoba Hydro’s legislative requirement to maintain uniform rates for all residential customers, regardless of where they reside in Manitoba,” said Kelvin Shepherd, President and CEO of Manitoba Hydro.
In explaining the decision to file the appeal, Shepherd noted that the governance of a large complex business such as Manitoba Hydro requires clear jurisdictional boundaries between the utility, regulators, and government.
“This appeal isn’t about the social policy merits of these special rates, rather it’s primarily a question of whether the current legislation enables the PUB to create them,” said Shepherd. “The court is in the best position to provide clarity on whether the PUB has authority to establish these special rates. We believe the PUB has overstepped its bounds in issuing this particular directive.”
“We also believe that the PUB lacks legislative authority to order Manitoba Hydro to spend customer funds to hire a consultant to review asset management decisions made by the utility under the oversight and authority of the Manitoba Hydro-Electric Board (MHEB). This aspect of the PUB order is not consistent with the governance structure and authority established by legislation.”
While the corporation regrets the need to seek guidance from the court, it is necessary given the PUB clearly signaled its intentions to build further on these kinds of directives in future decisions.
Manitoba Hydro previously filed a request with the PUB to Review and Vary these and other aspects of Order 59/18. While the PUB did subsequently vary certain parts of that order by issuing a new order – 90/18 – these two directives, which raise important jurisdictional questions, were not varied. The utility has already complied with the PUB order to create the special rate class.