In December 2015, a complaint was made to the British Columbia
Utilities Commission (BCUC) alleging that BC Hydro had
intentionally misled the BCUC about future plans (and associated
costs) for its enterprise financial IT systems. This complaint,
made by the NDP critic for BC Hydro (Adrian Dix), alleges that
filings and testimony in a 2008 BCUC proceeding should have
disclosed BC Hydro's decision to transition to a new and more
expensive enterprise financial IT system. The complaint alleges
that by the time that the case was heard, BC Hydro had changed
course from its as-filed plans to upgrade its existing system
rather than replace it. Based on the allegations made, the
complainant asserts that BC Hydro and its management committed
offences under section 106 of the BC Utilities Commission Act.
BC Hydro's President and CEO issued a prompt initial response to the complaint, indicating that BC
Hydro takes the allegations very seriously and is committed to
ensuring that the highest standards of transparency are met in all
of its regulatory proceedings. In this initial response, BC Hydro
asserted that its final decision to move to a new enterprise
financial IT system was not made until after the BCUC proceeding.
However, BC Hydro acknowledged that more information should have
been given during the hearing about the replacement option that was
being considered and was emerging as a preferred option.
On January 8, 2016, BC Hydro filed its formal response to the
complaint with the BCUC. While the full response has not been
posted online, there was a newspaper article describing the response.
According to the article, BC Hydro's President and CEO is
apologizing for inaccurate testimony given by a utility witness,
and has acknowledged that some of the statements about the status
of options being considered were misleading. However, it appears
that BC Hydro is holding to its position that no formal approved
decision to pursue a different option had been made at the time of
the BCUC proceedings.
There has not been any public statement from the BCUC about how
or when it will respond to the complaint. In the event that the
BCUC does not dismiss the complaint, one potential next step is to
commence a prosecution alleging one or more offences under the Utilities Commission Act. Whatever
next steps are chosen by the BCUC, it will be interesting to see
whether the regulator addresses the question of how a utility
should update its testimony and evidence as circumstances change
after evidence has been filed, but before a proceeding is complete.
This is an issue that arises relatively frequently given the long
lead time between the filing and hearing dates for large rate
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