Recently, the Ontario Energy Board announced details of the much
anticipated "Consumer Engagement and Representation
Framework." The focus of the planned new framework is on
providing local consumers with greater access to and representation
within OEB processes. The goal is to give residential consumers and
local small businesses a stronger voice in the OEB's decision
making. While there had been some expectation (as we reported
here) that the new framework would effectively replace the
existing intervenor model, the planned changes are better described
as complementary to the existing model.
An enhanced OEB consumer website and enhanced notification
of proceedings – The plan is to make the OEB's
website more user-friendly with plain language guides to help
consumers understand and get involved in regulatory processes
(hearings). Consumers will receive notice of hearings/proceedings
in various ways, including published notices, social media, email
and utility bills.
Local community meetings and hearings in the community
– The use of community meetings to educate consumers about
pending applications will be expanded. The goal of these sessions
is to educate consumers and provide the OEB with local perspectives
on what is being requested. In addition to these pre-application
local meetings, the OEB also plans to hold larger hearings (in
whole or in part) in the local community impacted by an
New OEB "Process Counsel" to advise
consumers – OEB "Process Counsel" will be
available to answer consumer inquiries. The "Process
Counsel" will be knowledgeable about current applications and
the OEB's processes (including how consumers can be involved).
The stated goal is to reduce barriers faced by consumers who want
to know how to effectively participate in an adjudicative
Regional Consumer Representatives – From a
process perspective, the biggest change in the new framework is the
addition of "Regional Consumer Representatives." These
persons (who will apparently be selected by the OEB) will gather
information from and advocate on behalf of local customers during
the hearing. The Regional Consumer Representatives will be
experienced in energy matters and hearing advocacy and will be
expected to engage with local customers, record and report their
views and advance their interests in the OEB's hearing process.
It is not clear from the OEB's materials how the addition of
Regional Consumer Representatives will apply to utilities that
operate in multiple areas of Ontario (such as Hydro One, Enbridge
Gas Distribution and Union Gas).
The communications from the OEB make clear that the
implementation of the new framework is not intended to replace the
current intervenor participation model. That being said, it is not
clear how the addition of Regional Consumer Representatives will
impact on the role to be played by the current intervenors who
represent the views of residential and small business
The implementation of the new framework is planned to start in
the Fall of 2016. Among the items that will be available at that
time are the Process Counsel, community meetings and hearings in
the community. Next steps include the enhanced OEB Consumer Website
as of mid-2017 and the development of a pilot and implementation
plan for Regional Consumer Representatives.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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Canada is a constitutional monarchy, a parliamentary democracy and a federation comprised of ten provinces and three territories. Canada's judiciary is independent of the legislative and executive branches of Government.
In Bank of Montreal v Bumper Development Corporation Ltd, 2016 ABQB 363, the Alberta Court of Queen's Bench enforced the "immediate replacement" provision in the Canadian Association of Petroleum Landmen 2007 Operating Procedure...
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