Process for costs awards
Section 9.1 of Rule 022 provides that an eligible participant may apply to the Commission for an award of costs incurred in a hearing or other proceeding by filing a costs claim, and Section 9.3 requires the cost claim to be filed within 30 days of the proceeding being closed. While Section 7.1 of Rule 022 provides that an eligible intervener in a hearing or other proceeding may, at any time before or during the proceeding, make a request to the Commission for an advance of funds, in most rates proceedings, eligible participants do not submit an application for cost recovery until after the record of the proceeding has closed.
The Office of the Utilities Consumer Advocate (UCA) regularly intervenes in rates proceedings on behalf of residential, farm and small business consumers of electricity and natural gas in accordance with its statutory mandate. The UCA’s interventions are funded through government collection of certain fees that are ultimately recovered from electric and natural gas customers. The UCA does not recover its costs under Rule 022.
Recommendation #11 from the Report of the Procedures and Processes Review Committee, adopted by the Commission, provides: “[p]enalize abuse or inefficient use of the interrogatory process through reduction of costs allowed to utilities and eligible interveners.”
- Should the Commission adopt a different model or approach to fund, in whole or in part, intervention in rates proceedings?
This could include modified timing (e.g. advance approval of a capped intervention budget) or more broad changes to the funding of intervention entirely (e.g. yearly budgets for intervention based on historical costs or outcomes) and should be consistent with the Commission’s commitment to regulatory efficiency and minimizing red tape.
- How can the Commission ensure customers are adequately and fairly represented in rates proceedings while also ensuring the overall costs of these interventions (which will ultimately be borne by customers) are reasonable?
For example, should the Commission adopt an approach whereby eligible parties can only claim a percentage (such as 50 per cent) of their costs of participation and require parties to fund the remainder of their costs through other means (e.g. shareholder cost, member dues, etc.)?
- Should the Commission introduce provisions that expressly authorize it to impose costs on a party to penalize the party for abuse or inefficient use of the Commission’s process?
- Should the Commission expand, reduce or alter the criteria in Section 11.2 of Rule 022 to incorporate the principles cited on page 46 of the Report of the Procedures and Processes Review Committee?
For example, add ‘Submitted evidence at a cost disproportionate to the value of that evidence on the matters at issue.’
- What, if any, changes are required to Rule 022 to encourage and support greater use of negotiated settlements, including the mediated settlement approach?
- As part of its pilot of the mediated settlement approach, the Commission has paid the fees for the mediators. In future, who should pay for the costs of the mediator(s) and how should these be recovered?
- Are any changes required to the applicable deadline(s) for filing costs claim applications?