Importance to New Brunswick
The New Brunswick Energy and Utilities Board (EUB) provides regulatory oversight over electricity, natural gas distribution and pipeline projects, and administers the price regulation of petroleum. Its mandate is to serve the public interest, especially in relation to customer tolls and rates. This requires a balance between the interests of ratepayers and utilities, to ensure just and reasonable rates while allowing the utilities the opportunity to maintain sustainable operations.
Strong and effective regulation of utilities is essential to ensure that energy charges to customers are justified in a transparent and open process. Large business customer classes are often represented at such proceedings. As part of the regulatory process, it is also important that the interests of residential and small commercial customers are properly represented by an advocate who is experienced in energy regulatory matters.
The historical roots of the EUB go back to 1910. It operates independently from government and follows a formal process that allows interested parties the opportunity to be heard. This removes the decision-making power from government departments and places it in the hands of a board whose members and staff have the independence, expertise, experience and discretion to make balanced decisions in the public interest.
The board plays a fundamental role in the regulation of NB Power’s distribution rates and in natural gas distribution rates. The EUB also receives applications for the construction and operation of intra-provincial pipelines and its Pipeline Safety Division ensures compliance with pipeline standards. The board also regulates the motor coach industry and inter-city bus service. Finally, it administers the regulation of petroleum prices under the Petroleum Products Pricing Act.
The board manages a full slate of regulatory matters with only two full-time board members, eight part-time members, and about thirteen fulltime staff. Its annual operating costs of approximately $2.5 million are funded by the industries it regulates by way of levies and fees.
A Vision for the Future
In a regulatory environment that is increasingly complex and demanding of the regulator’s time and resources, a shift to full-time board members will be able to more efficiently manage its regulatory and administrative processes and schedules. Decision making panels would have the full and consistent background knowledge and experience needed to deal with complex energy issues.
A public energy advocate would offer full-time and effective representation of small-scale customer classes in relation to utility rates and services.
There will be an equitable and accountable method of allocating the costs of this office to those utilities whose regulatory activities create the need for consumer advocacy.
Energy Action Plan Items linked to this objective
To achieve this objective, New Brunswick will pursue the following Energy Action Plan items:
1. Reintegration of NB Power
4. NB Power – Regulatory Oversight and Integrated Resource Plan
15. Natural Gas Distribution Rates
16. Petroleum Products Pricing
17. Energy and Utilities Board
18. Office of the Public Energy Advocate
19. Energy Literacy, Education and Skills Development