In response to direction from the British Columbia government (set out in an Order in Council), the British Columbia Utilities Commission (BCUC) has established an Inquiry Respecting the Regulation of Indigenous Utilities. Among other things, the BCUC plans to address what are the characteristics of an “Indigenous Utility” and whether and how Indigenous Utilities should be regulated. The BCUC is required to submit an interim report describing the commission's preliminary findings by December 31, 2019, and to submit a “final report describing the results of consultations undertaken by the commission and the commission's findings and recommendations” by January 31, 2020.
As set out in the Order in Council and confirmed in the BCUC’s Notice, when looking at the characteristics of an Indigenous Utility, the BCUC will consider the ownership and operation of the utility, the services provided, the service recipients and the area served by the utility. When looking at whether and how an Indigenous Utility should be regulated, the BCUC will consider whether the current Utilities Commission Act should be used or whether another mechanism is appropriate, and how ratepayers will be protected if there is no regulation.
The first steps in the BCUC inquiry are Community Input Sessions being held across British Columbia in June/early July 2019. Interested parties are encouraged to attend and provide their perspective to the BCUC panel members about the scope and direction of the Inquiry.
Parties who wish to participate in the BCUC’s proceedings beyond the Community Input Sessions must register as intervenors. Intervenors are invited to submit written evidence relevant to the Inquiry by July 15, 2019. No information is available about the planned next steps for the Inquiry after that date.