Consumer advocate Tom Johnson. — File photo by Gary Hebbard/The Telegram
Ahead of the Jan. 10 start of public hearings on Newfoundland Power’s proposed rate hike, some of the outstanding issues have been settled in pre-hearing consultations before the Public Utilities Board (PUB).
Newfoundland Power is proposing an increase of 7.2 per cent for the average homeowner.
According to what consumer advocate Thomas Johnson told The Telegram Monday, while some of the underlying items have been agreed upon, the major dispute over what could be considered an appropriate return on equity for Newfoundland Power shareholders is still outstanding.
“I am completely opposed to Newfoundland Power’s position on the return of equity they’re seeking and we’ll have to have the board decide on that matter,” Johnson said.
He has publicly stated his objections to the proposed return — 10.4 per cent in 2013 and 10.5 per cent in 2014 — since Newfoundland Power’s initial filing with the regulator.
“I think this case once again highlights that Newfoundland Power is bound and determined to have our Public Utilities Board (acquiesce) to its attempts to compare itself to big U.S. utilities,” Johnson said this week, adding both he
and the experts he has consult-
ed believe the two are not comparable.
It will be up to the PUB to decide. The board will hear from experts for both the consumer advocate and Newfoundland Power on the matter.
In 2009, the PUB found nine per cent to be a fair return. The 2012 return is set at 8.8 per cent.
Meanwhile, expert witnesses brought before the PUB will also be speaking to aspects of depreciation and operating costs — other factors in the proposed power rate increase.
All of the related documentation, including the original filing by Newfoundland Power, can be found on the Board of Commissioners
of Public Utilities website (www.pub.nf.ca).
Johnson said he has received only a few comments from members of the public on the case up to this point, but suggested more may come after the holidays.
Letters of comment can be submitted directly to the PUB up to Jan. 18. Requests to make an oral presentation to the board can be made up to noon on Friday, Jan. 11.
For more information, people can contact the PUB by phone at 726-8600 or 1-866-782-0006.