Regulatory agencies play a critical role in the operation of modern society. They perform functions which none of the legislature, the government, or the courts have the time, the expertise, or the capacity to perform. Because of the importance of regulatory agencies, it is essential that they be subject to effective governance.
This paper examines the governance of regulatory agencies, using the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) as a case study. This paper uses the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development's (OECD) principles for governance of regulatory agencies as the standard by which to assess the governance of the OEB.
This paper examines the operations of the OEB against that standard and identifies aspects of the OEB's operations which do not meet the standard. It then examines the OEB's existing governance instruments – principally judicial review by the courts, and compliance with the Memorandum of Understanding between the responsible Minister and the chair of the OEB – to determine whether those instruments are adequate to address the deficiencies. This paper argues that those instruments are not adequate.
This paper concludes by suggesting that what is required is an independent examination of the OEB's operations, first to determine what practices need to be improved in order to meet the OECD standard and, second, to determine whether the existing governance instruments can be enhanced or whether they need to be replaced.
This paper considers the governance of regulatory agencies.
Regulatory agencies play a critical role in the functioning of Ontario's society. They are responsible for the oversight of essential parts of the economy. They play an important role, as well, in protecting the safety and ensuring the well-being of the province's residents.
The importance of regulatory agencies was recently summarized by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development ("OECD") as follows:
They [regulatory agencies] play a vital role in the delivery of public policy and are responsible for ensuring investment in sectors and industries, as well as for protecting the neutrality of markets. They protect citizens (including workers and consumers) for fairness and safety, and they also protect the environment and manage its future. They ensure the reliability of vital infrastructure. If the lights go out, they are held to account.1
Given the importance of regulatory agencies, it is essential that they be subject to appropriate oversight and control. On this point, the OECD has stated:
The governance arrangements of a regulator are critical. The legal remit of the regulator, the powers it is given, how it is funded and how it is held accountable are all key issues that should be carefully designed if the regulator is to succeed in combining effective regulation with high standards of integrity and trust. Regulators are pivotal in making regulatory regimes work for sustainable growth and equitable societies.2
Regulatory agencies exercise powers delegated to them by legislatures. Such delegation is necessary in a complex and highly-specialized economy. Legislatures do not have the expertise, the time, or the information to apply detailed regulatory standards to individual circumstances.
Delegation entails carrying out the objectives of the legislation. It also entails carrying out the government policies that inform the legislation. To that extent, regulatory agencies are not independent of the government. At the same time, however, the proper exercise of delegated powers in some circumstances requires regulatory agencies to act as quasi-judicial decision-makers. Acting in that capacity requires regulatory agencies to have a measure of independence.
Regulatory agencies are subject to oversight, to varying degrees and in different ways, by the legislature, the government, and the courts. They are subject, in other words, to three sources of external governance. The question this paper addresses is whether those sources, alone or in combination, provide sufficient governance.
Because of the need for a measure of independence in carrying out their quasi-judicial function – and indeed because of the very reason for their existence, such as the need for a body with a level of expertise which the legislature does not have – there are limits on the effectiveness and the appropriateness of the government, and the legislature, as sources of governance. At the same time, through the evolving jurisprudence on judicial deference, the courts have allowed regulatory agencies considerable freedom in finding facts, interpreting their own statutes, and, indeed, making law. As a result, there are limits on the role of courts in the governance of regulatory agencies. There are, thus, gaps in the nature and extent of the oversight by the legislature, the courts, and the government.
Rather than undertake an examination of the governance of regulatory agencies in the abstract, this paper uses the governance of the Ontario Energy Board ("OEB" or "Board") as a case study.
To provide a frame of reference for that examination, this paper measures OEB governance against the principles for the governance of regulatory agencies developed by the OECD.3
This paper is in the following parts:
1. In Part II, I discuss what governance of regulatory agencies consists of, and why it is important;
2. In Part III, I describe the OECD's principles for the governance of regulatory agencies;
3. In Part IV, I provide general background information regarding the regulation of the energy sector in Ontario and the role of the OEB in that sector, in order to provide a context for the assessment of OEB governance;
4. In Part V, I measure aspects of the OEB's operations against the OECD principles;
5. In Part VI, I examine the OEB's existing governance mechanisms, including the OEB's own governance processes, the Memorandum of Understanding ("MOU")4 between the Chair of the OEB and the responsible Minister, and the oversight principles applied by the superior courts to regulatory agencies, including the OEB;
6. In Part VII, I set out the conclusions of the analysis and make suggestions for how those conclusions might be applied.
II WHAT IS GOVERNANCE OF REGULATORY AGENCIES AND WHY IT IS IMPORTANT
In this part, I examine what governance for regulatory agencies consists of and why such governance is important. I also compare considerations of governance in the private and public sectors.
For regulatory agencies, governance may be defined, broadly, as the mechanisms or instruments, processes, and relations by which a regulator is controlled and directed, and by which its decisions and actions are measured and held to account. The mechanisms or instruments would include the governing legislation, any regulations made under that legislation, and the rules governing the regulatory agency's relations with government, the legislature, and the courts. It would also include the regulatory agency's own structures, rules, and practices.
The importance of good governance for regulators has been described by the OECD in the following terms:
How a regulator is set up, directed, controlled, resourced and held to account — including the nature of the relationships between the regulatory decision-maker, political actors, the legislature, the executive administration, judicial processes and regulated entities — builds trust in the regulator and is crucial to the overall effectiveness of regulation. Improving governance arrangements can benefit the community by enhancing the effectiveness of regulators and, ultimately, the achievement of important public policy goals.5
The Task Force for the Independent Review of the British Columbia Utilities Commission made the following observation about the British Columbia Utilities Commission in its Interim Report:
To be effective, the BCUC needs to have credibility, public confidence, and independence within the exercise of its mandate as set by government.6
Governance is essential to ensuring that regulatory agencies have those qualities. The OECD indicates that there are two aspects of governance relevant to regulators. They are:
- external governance (looking out from the regulator) – the roles, relationships and distribution of powers and responsibilities between the legislature, the Minister, the Ministry, the regulator's governing body and regulated entities; and
- internal governance (looking into the regulator) – the regulator's organisational structures, standards of behaviour and roles and responsibilities, compliance and accountability measures, oversight of business processes, financial reporting and performance management.7
In this paper, I examine aspects of the OEB's operations from the perspective of both external and internal governance.
The governance of corporations, and in particular, publicly-traded corporations, is much discussed in the business press, in academic programs, and in academic publications. Because of the visibility of the discussion in the corporate sector, it is necessary to compare, briefly, the nature of the governance of corporations with the nature of the governance of regulatory agencies.
The literature on governance in the corporate sector is extensive, while consideration of the governance of regulatory agencies has been less extensive8. While the considerations of governance in the two share a common vocabulary, there are important differences.
Corporate governance has been defined as follows:
"Corporate governance" means the process and structure used to direct and manage the business affairs of the corporation with the objective of enhancing shareholder value, which includes ensuring the financial viability of the business. The process and structure define the division of power and establish mechanisms for achieving accountability among shareholders, the board of directors and management. The direction and management of the business should take into account the impact on other stakeholders such as employees, customers, suppliers and communities.9
Courts recognize that corporations have obligations to a variety of stakeholder groups.10 In the final analysis, however, governance in the private sector is driven principally by the need to protect and enhance the interests of shareholders.
Unlike corporations, regulatory agencies are created by statute11, are required to fulfil a specific statutory mandate, and are subject to a formal accountability framework to the courts, to the legislature that created them, and to the government, albeit in different ways and for different functions. Unlike corporations, which have an overriding obligation to give priority to the interests of their shareholders, regulatory agencies have an obligation to balance a number of competing interests and not favour one interest over another. Unlike corporations, regulatory agencies are subject to a body of law (the principles of administrative law), which requires them to make certain decisions according to certain principles. For example, unlike regulatory agencies, corporations are not required to make decisions based on publicly-available evidence, and they are not required to allow stakeholders to participate in the decision-making process.
One concept which is at the core of the discussions of good governance in the corporate sector is independence. The effective governance of corporations often turns on the role of independent directors in overseeing the operations of the corporation. Although considerations of effective governance for corporations and for regulatory agencies are in most respects quite different, the role of the equivalent of independent directors, in the governance of regulatory agencies, is one that may have value and it is considered in part VII below.
III THE OECD'S PRINCIPLES FOR THE GOVERNANCE OF REGULATORS
In this part, I describe the OECD's principles for the governance of regulators. I supplement those principles with suggestions for additional governance criteria.
The OECD suggests that there are four of what it calls "necessary and mutually reinforcing elements" that must be in place to ensure good governance for regulators. They are:
1. Well-designed rules and regulations that are efficient and effective;
2. Effective, consistent and fair operational processes and practices;
3. Appropriate institutional frameworks and related governance arrangements;
4. High quality and empowered institutional capacity and resources, especially in leadership.12
The OECD's inclusion of "operational processes and practices" gives rise to questions which occur, at various points, throughout this paper. The principles of administrative law address, among other matters, the processes of decision making by regulatory agencies. They address whether those affected by a decision are given adequate notice of what the decision might entail, whether they know the evidence that might be used to support the decision, whether they have an opportunity to examine and to challenge that evidence, whether they have an opportunity to lead their own evidence, whether the decision maker is free of bias, and so forth. The courts will enforce adherence to those principles, ensuring that the process of decision making meets the required standards. The question is whether the OECD principles require anything further. I believe that they do, for the reasons discussed below.
The OECD sets out principles within seven areas which it indicates need to be considered to support the good governance of regulators. They are:
1. Role clarity
According to the OECD, role clarity requires, among other things, the following:
- Legislation [granting] regulatory authority to a specific body should clearly state the objectives of the legislation and the powers of the authority;13
- Where a regulator has a range of functions, it is important that these are complementary and not potentially in conflict. This means that the performance of one function should not limit, or appear to compromise, the regulator's ability to fulfil its other functions (including its core regulatory function);14
- Policy formulation, in its primary sense, belongs to elected governments. Governments determine the principles, objectives, priorities and approaches they take to governing. These are given effect principally through legislation introduced to the legislature, including through funding for specific programs;15
- The respective roles of the regulator and the Ministry should be clear and agreed;16
- Major and periodic policy reviews and evaluation of a regulatory scheme, including the performance of the regulator, should be carried out independently of the regulator. This should be through a transparent process that involves input from the regulator and those affected by its activities.17
2. Preventing undue influence and maintaining trust
Under this rubric, the OECD makes the following statements:
A high degree of regulatory integrity helps achieve decision making which is objective, impartial, consistent, and avoids the risks of conflict, bias or improper influence. The nature of some regulatory decisions can at times involve higher risks to the integrity of the regulatory process, for example, due to pressures from the affected interests or the contentious and sometimes politically sensitive nature of the decisions.18
Establishing the regulator with a degree of independence (both from those it regulates and from government) can provide greater confidence and trust that regulatory decisions are made with integrity. A high level of integrity improves outcomes of the regulatory decisions.
Regulators should have provisions for preventing undue influence of their regulatory decision-making powers and maintaining trust in their competence and delivery.19
According to the OECD, preventing undue influence and maintaining trust requires, among other things, the following:
- Defining a regulator's relationship, responsibilities and lines of accountability to the relevant minister, ministry and the legislature is central to both external governance arrangements and independence.20
- Enshrining a regulator's independence in legislation does not guarantee that the regulator's behaviour and decisions will be independent (Thatcher, 2002; 2005). A culture of independence, strong leadership and an appropriate working relationship with government and other stakeholders are essential to independent regulatory behaviour.21
- An important aspect of institutional arrangements that protect the independence of regulators are the provisions relating to terms of appointment of independent board members.... Term limits can be useful to guard against perceived capture, but must avoid unnecessarily depriving the regulatory system of the useful expertise and experience built up by a regulator.22
3. Decision making and governing body structure for independent regulators
The principal focus of the OECD principles in this category is with the relationship between the government and the regulator, with particular attention to the process for the appointment of members of the regulator. However, as will be discussed below, decision making also involves consideration of the processes by which a regulator makes its decisions.
4. Accountability and transparency
Under this heading, the OECD makes the following statement:
Under this rubric, the OECD states that "One objective of good regulator governance is to enhance public and stakeholder confidence in the regulator, its decisions and its actions."25 To achieve that, the OECD suggests that "Regulators should undertake regular and purposeful engagement with regulated entities and other stakeholders focused on improving the operation and outcomes of the regulatory scheme."26
Under this heading, the OECD states that "Clarity about regulators' sources and levels of funding is necessary to protect their independence and objectivity. Transparency about the basis of funding can also enhance confidence that the regulator is efficient, as well as effective."27
The OECD further recommends that "Any funding of representative or policy advocacy organizations should be the responsibility of the relevant Ministry, not the regulator."28
7. Performance evaluation
Under this heading, the OECD makes the following points:
- Regulators should clearly define and agree the scope of their mandate that will be assessed with key stakeholders;29
- Regulators should determine which regulatory decisions, actions and interventions will be evaluated in the performance assessment;30
- The regulator should report against a comprehensive set of meaningful performance indicators, set with reference to the goals it is expected to achieve.31
- A regulator's performance measures should incorporate quantifiable aspects of the regulator's activities that provide metrics to assess their performance, as well as the costs they impose.32
- Regulators should conduct internal performance evaluations as part of good internal governance practices.33
To the OECD principles, I suggest adding the following governance criteria, some or all of which may be implicit in the OECD principles.
As discussed further in part VI below, the courts' recent jurisprudence on the standard of review is premised on the basis that regulatory agencies have specialized expertise. Courts in effect assume expertise in specialized regulatory agencies. Courts do not, in other words, examine the nature and extent of the expertise of the members of the regulatory agency making the decision under review. Good governance would, I suggest, assess the members of a regulatory agency to ensure that they have the requisite expertise.
The courts also allow regulatory agencies a broad discretion in determining what evidence they should admit and what evidence should form the basis for their decisions. I suggest that good governance would require that regulatory agencies assess the standards they apply to the evidence they admit and assess whether, in applying those standards, the evidence is adequate for the decisions they are required to make.
Finally, regulatory agencies establish rules and processes that are designed to achieve certain objectives. I suggest that the principles of good governance would require a regular assessment about whether those objectives are being fulfilled by those rules and processes.
IV THE OEB AND THE REGULATION OF THE ENERGY SECTOR
In order to assess the governance of the OEB, it is necessary to start with a description of how it is constituted and what its functions are. It is also necessary to understand the larger context within which the OEB operates. Accordingly, in this part I describe the OEB and its functions. To establish the larger context, I describe the changes in the energy sector in Ontario over the past 15 years that have affected the operations of the OEB and its governance.
By way of general overview, the operations of the province's utilities represent about 2.1 percent of provincial GDP34. Since energy is an essential commodity, it is a sector that is critical to the welfare of the province's residents. It is also critical to the health of the provincial economy.
The OEB regulates many aspects of the energy sector. It is thus, in part, responsible for the health of that sector. As the cost of energy is critical to the success of businesses and to the lives of individuals, how the OEB regulates the sector is a matter of considerable political sensitivity, a reality which has an impact on the governance of the OEB.
The OEB has an annual budget of approximately $35 million. It employs 188 people35.
The OEB is created by a statute, the Ontario Energy Board Act, 199836 ("OEB Act"), as an independent regulator.37 At the same time, however, the OEB is required, both explicitly in its governing legislation and implicitly by commonly accepted norms of political governance, to be responsive to provincial government policy.38 Most of the entities which the OEB regulates are owned by the provincial government or by municipalities.
In approving rates for the distribution and transmission of electricity and natural gas, the OEB is required to balance competing interests, including those of residential consumers, large and small businesses, the government, and the utility shareholders. The OEB is required, in approving rates, to act as a quasi-judicial tribunal. As such, it is required to abide by the principles of administrative law. It is accountable to the courts for any failure to comply with those principles.
The functions of the OEB, and the powers granted to it to carry out those functions, are contained principally in the OEB Act and in the Electricity Act39 ("EA").
The OEB's legislated functions include the following:
- Licencing electricity and natural gas distributors, transmitters and retailers
- Approving the construction of natural gas and electricity transmission facilities
- Approving rates for the distribution and transmission of electricity
- Approving rates for the distribution and storage of natural gas
- Establishing the codes that govern the activities of natural gas distributors and transmitters, and retailers
- Monitoring, and ensuring compliance with, those codes
- Monitoring, and ensuring compliance with, the rules for the marketing of electricity
In addition, the OEB regulates aspects of the operations of the Ontario Power Authority and the Independent Electricity System Operator (now amalgamated as the Independent Electricity System Operator).
Pursuant to the authority granted by the OEB Act, the OEB has issued a number of codes prescribing, for example, the rules governing the relationship between a regulated utility and its affiliates.
Although not required by legislation, the OEB has taken on the role of educating consumers about the factors affecting energy costs, including how distribution rates are set.
Some of the functions of the OEB are purely administrative: that is, functions which require a limited exercise of discretion, such as a determination of whether utilities comply with uniform accounting rules. Others involve the exercise of a broad discretion, the best example being the approval of rates for the distribution and transmission of natural gas and electricity.
The power to approve rates, prescribed in the OEB Act, is set out in general terms. The OEB is to approve rates which are "just and reasonable"40. The OEB Act does not define what constitutes "just and reasonable". As a result, the OEB has a broad discretion as to what the term means.
In exercising the power to approve rates, the OEB is required to hold a hearing41. In approving rates, the OEB is, thus, carrying out a quasi-judicial function. It must carry out that function in accordance with the principles of administrative law, including those codified in the Statutory Powers Procedure Act42. Failure to comply with these principles makes the OEB subject to judicial review by the superior courts.
The OEB Act establishes the formal elements of the internal management structure of the OEB. Subsection 4.2(1) requires that the OEB have a management committee composed of the Chair and two vice-chairs. Subsection 4.2(2) provides that the management committee is to manage the affairs of the OEB, including the OEB's budgeting and the allocation of the OEB's resources. Section 4.6 provides that, every three years, the Chair of the OEB and the Minister are to enter into the MOU governing specified matters. Section 4.9 requires the Board to deliver an annual report to the Minister, which the Minister must, in turn, lay before the Legislature. Section 4.10 permits the Management Committee to make by-laws governing, among other things, the internal management of the OEB.
Various sections of the OEB Act authorize the Minister to issue directives on specified subjects to the OEB and requires the OEB to implement those directives.
The OEB Act sets out "objectives" to which the OEB must have regard in making decisions with respect to electricity and natural gas.43 Although the OEB must have regard to the objectives, it reserves the discretion as to how it applies them. The OEB is not, in other words, required to apply the objectives in any particular way.
The OEB does not operate in isolation. Considerations of OEB governance must been seen in the context of the governance of the energy sector as a whole.
Over the course of the past fifteen years, there have been major changes in the structure of the energy sector in the province and, equally importantly, in the policies of the provincial government with respect to that sector. The most extensive of the changes have been in the electricity sector. Those changes include requiring local electricity distribution utilities to become Ontario Business Corporations Act44 corporations and to be subject to OEB regulation. Legislation, and directives issued pursuant to it, required both gas and electricity utilities to meet conservation and demand management targets and to integrate renewable energy sources into their systems. Electricity rates for consumers have been frozen, unfrozen, and subject to rebates.45
All of these changes have had an impact on the operations of the OEB. To begin with, the material increase in the number of utilities to be regulated has increased the OEB's workload substantially, and required it to adopt forms of regulation, and processes by which that regulation is effected, in the interests of efficiency. The frequency of changes in the government's policies towards the sector has required the OEB to, in turn, adapt to the changes. The clearest example of this need to adapt is the response to the province's green energy legislation. The OEB had to adapt to a material shift in the focus of regulation towards conservation, demand management, and the incorporation of renewable energy sources.
Because of its critical role in the economy of the province and in the lives of its residents, the energy sector has been, virtually from its inception, subject to interference by the governments of the day. What has been unusual about the past 15 years has been the scope of the changes in the electricity sector and the degree of explicit direction from the government in the operations of the gas and electricity utilities. One of the chosen instruments giving effect to that explicit direction is the OEB. Some of the direction has been explicit, in legislation, regulations, and directives issued pursuant to that relationship. The consequent loss of independence has had an impact, discussed further below, on the governance of the OEB.
The nature and extent of the government's interest in, and control over, the energy sector and the OEB is reflected in a letter dated September 25, 2014, from the Premier to the Minister of Energy, Mr. Chiarelli. In that letter, the Premier listed what she described as "your ministry's specific priorities". Those priorities are stated to include "working with the Ontario Energy Board to incorporate the Conservation First policy into local distributor planning processes for electricity and natural gas utilities – and the natural gas demand-side management framework under development".46 That statement would seem to suggest that the government views the OEB less as an independent regulator than as an instrument of government policy.
V OEB GOVERNANCE
In this part, I examine aspects of the OEB's operations against the OECD principles.
1. Role clarity
The OECD's principles of role clarity require that "The legislation that grants regulatory authority to a specific body should clearly state the objectives of the legislation and the powers of the authority."47 All of the OEB's objectives and its powers are contained in the OEB Act, the EA, and the directives issued pursuant to the OEB Act.
The MOU requires that the OEB produce a business plan, describing the actions it intends to take over a three-year period. The OEB produces that business plan. The OEB Act also requires that the OEB produce an annual report. The MOU provides that the annual report is to include an account of the OEB's activities and an assessment of whether it has met its own performance criteria. The OEB produces those annual reports. In addition, the OEB publishes policy statements.
All of these materials are, on the surface, consistent with the OECD's principles of role clarity and of accountability. Whether this reflects the reality is the question that needs to be addressed. As will be apparent from the analysis below, there is an important difference between complying with the OEB Act's and the MOU's formal governance and accountability requirements, on the one hand, and the substance of that compliance, on the other.
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1 Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, The Governance of Regulators (Paris: OECD Publishing, 2014) at 9 [OECD Principles].
3 OECD Principles, supra note 1.
4 Ontario Energy Board and Ontario Minister of Energy Bob Chiarelli, Memorandum of Understanding Between the Minister of Energy and the Chair of the Ontario Energy Board (Toronto: 2014), online: http://www.ontarioenergyboard.ca/oeb/_Documents/About%20the%20OEB/Memorandum_of_Understanding_OEB_Ministry.pdf [MOU].
5 Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, Principles for the Governance of Regulators: Public Consultation Draft: 21 June 2013 (Paris: OECD Publishing, 2013).
6 Peter Ostergaard, Michael Costello & R. Brian Wallace, Independent Review of the British Columbia Utilities Commission: Interim Report (1 October 2014), online: http://www.empr.gov.bc.ca/EEC/Strategy/EEA/Documents/ BCUC%20Review%20Interim%20Report%20Oct%207
.pdf at 12 [Interim Report]. The final report had not been issued at the time this paper was completed.
7 OECD Principles, supra note 1 at 19.
8 Professor Guy Holburn, in a paper entitled Guidelines for Governance of the Electricity Sector in Canada (online: http:// sites.ivey.ca/energy/files/2012/09/Guidelines-for-Governance-of-the-Electricity-Sector-in-Canada-Jan- 2011.pdf), dated January 2011, examines the governance of the electricity sector as a whole. His analysis includes some recommendations on changes to the governance of regulatory agencies in that sector.
9 Toronto Stock Exchange Committee, Report of the Toronto Stock Exchange Commission on Corporate Governance in Canada (Toronto, TSX, 1994) at 7.
10 See, for example, the decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in BCE Inc v 1976 Debenture Holders,  3 SCR 560 at 585 where the court said, "In considering what is in the best interests of the corporation, directors may look to the interests of, inter alia, shareholders, employees, creditors, consumers, governments and the environment to inform their decisions".
11 There are some corporations which are created by statute, though the number is small. In addition, non-share capital corporations (for example, charities) have members and not shareholders.
12 OECD Principles, supra note 1 at 22.
13 Ibid at 31.
14 Ibid at 33.
15 Ibid at 37.
16 Ibid at 38.
17 Ibid at 38.
18 Ibid at 47.
19 Ibid at 47.
20 Ibid at 56.
21 Ibid at 48.
22 Ibid at 60.
23 OECD, 2012; Department of Public Enterprise, 2000.
24 OECD Principles, supra note 1 at 81.
25 Ibid at 91.
26 Ibid at 91.
27 Ibid at 99.
28 Ibid at 101.
29 Ibid at 106.
30 Ibid at 106.
31 Ibid at 107.
32 Ibid at 107.
33 Ibid at 108.
34 Ontario Ministry of Finance, Ontario Economic Accounts, October 2014 (Toronto: Queen's Printer for Ontario, 2014) at 11.
35 Ontario Energy Board 2011-2014 Budget, online: http:// www.ontarioenergyboard.ca/oeb/_Documents/Corporate/ OEB_Business_Plan_2011-2014_Budget.pdf.
36 Ontario Energy Board Act, 1998, SO 1998, c 15, Schedule B [OEB Act].
37 The extent to which regulatory agencies are "independent" has been the subject of extensive judicial and academic analysis. For purposes of this paper, which focusses primarily on the exercise of the OEB's authority to approve rates, I use independent in the sense employed by the Divisional Court in the case of Union Gas Ltd. v. Ontario (Energy Board). In that case, the Divisional Court said that, in its power to approve rates, "the Board is not fettered in any manner in making orders to ensure that rates are just and reasonable". (Union Gas Ltd. v. Ontario (Energy Board) 2013 ONSC 7048, para 28 ("Union Gas"). That "fettering" can take a number of forms. It can take the form of external directions from the government. It can take the form of internal constraints resulting from the OEB's own rules or policies, or pressures from within the Board to achieve certain objectives.
38 Chief Justice McLachlin, in the Ocean Port decision, described administrative tribunals in the following words: "They [administrative tribunals] are, in fact, created precisely for the purpose of implementing government policy." That statement should be read in the context of the decision as a whole, and risks understating the freedom of administrative tribunals to interpret and, depending on the facts, ignore government policy. (Ocean Port Hotel Ltd. v. British Columbia (General Manager, Liquor Control and Licensing Branch), 2001 SCC 52 at para 24).
39 Electricity Act, 1998, SO 1998, c 15, Schedule A.
40 OEB Act, supra note 35 at ss 36, 78.
41 Ibid at s 21.
42 Statutory Powers Procedure Act, RSO 1990, c S.22.
43 OEB Act, supra note 35 at ss 1, 2.
44 Business Corporations Act, RSO 1990, c B.16.
45 The frequency of changes in the electricity sector has had an adverse impact on the governance of that sector, a subject discussed by Professor Guy L. F. Holburn, in his paper "Utility Governance and Performance" delivered to the CCRE – Ivey Business School Conference, February 27, 2014.
46 Mandate letter from Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne to the Ontario Minister of Energy Bob Chiarelli (25 September 2014), online: http://www.ontario.ca/ government/2014-mandate-letter-energy.
47 OECD Principles, supra note 1 at 31.
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