INTRODUCTION

Like any business, local distribution companies (LDCs) are continuously caught between, on the one hand, managing its day to day operations, ensuring that the lights are turned on and stay on, and on the other hand, addressing its strategic future. For Ontario’s LDCs, it’s fair to say that this balancing act has been a bit of a see-saw for the better part of a decade as curve-ball after curve-ball gets thrown into the mix.

This edition of LDCs Now highlights a few recent curve-balls, all part of a day in the life of an LDC. Watch for more detailed updates on these subjects in future issues of LDCs Now.

IFRS, MIFRS

On June 13, the Ontario Energy Board (Board) released its Addendum to Report of the Board: Implementing International Financial Reporting Standards in an Incentive Rate Mechanism Environment. As LDCs are well aware, the Canadian Accounting Standards Board requires that Canadian Generally Accepted Accounting Principals for publicly accountable enterprises be replaced by International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). The addendum sets out additional regulatory policy for IFRS transition in circumstances where rates are rebased using cost of service methods and where rates are subsequently set using an incentive rate-setting mechanism. The Board acknowledges that certain external uncertainties remain, but indicates that the addendum, together with its 2009 Report of the Board, Transition to IFRS (as amended) and the 2010 Board-sponsored depreciation study, provide sufficient guidance to LDCs implement IFRS effective January 1, 2012, the required date for rate-regulated enterprises. No doubt, this could make the summer pass by very quickly for LDC finance folks. Access the Board’s addendum here – http://www.ontarioenergyboard.ca/OEB/_Documents/EB-2008-0408/IFRS_Report_Addendum_20110613.pdf

WE NEED TIME

Applications by LDCs for extensions to mandated time-of-use pricing dates continue to dominate airtime on the Board’s “What’s New” list. Since the start of the year, a steady stream of applicant LDCs seeking extensions have been filed. But while the relief sought is similar, the same cannot be said for the diverse range of reasons behind the extension requests, some of which include concerns relating to customer education and preparation, infrastructure to address expected increase of customer inquiries and to minimize conversion errors, physical barriers to meter implementation, foliage impact on metering systems and human resources issues.  

WE NEED SPACE

On April 25, 2011, the Canadian Distributed Antenna Systems Coalition (CANDAS) filed an application with the Board on behalf of its member companies. CANDAS is seeking, among other things, an order from the Board that requires LDCs to provide Canadian carriers with access to electricity distributor’s poles for the purpose of attaching wireless equipment, including wireless components of distributed antenna systems. Judging from the number of LDCs seeking intervenor or observer status, this case promises to be of critical importance to the sector.

THE BROADER LANDSCAPE

CLEAN ENERGY STANDARD OFFER PROGRAM (CESOP) – ONTARIO POWER AUTHORITY ANNOUNCES AMENDMENTS TO COMBINED HEAT AND POWER STANDARD OFFER AND ENERGY RECOVERY STANDARD OFFER PROGRAMS – APRIL 2011  

On March 31, 2011, the OPA provided a notice to CESOP stakeholders of amendments proposed to the CHPSOP and ERSOP Rules, Contracts and Definitions. The amendments reflect the OPA’s response to various comments and issues that were identified by stakeholders to date in the CESOP consultation process. Rule amendments include clarifications of connection availability management as well as related cost responsibilities. The final program was launched on May 6 and closes June 30.  

Read more at – http://www.blg.com/en/home/publications/Documents/publication_1845.pdf.

EVEN BROADER

FEDERAL CABINET ANNOUNCEMENT, GOVERNMENT RELATIONS BULLETIN – MAY 2011  

Only weeks after the Conservative Party of Canada’s historic victory in the 41st General Election, Prime Minister Stephen Harper unveiled the new federal Cabinet. The Prime Minister had six cabinet vacancies to fill with the electoral defeat of four of his ministers – three from Québec and one from British Columbia – and the retirement of two others. Largely guided by regional considerations, selection of the new Cabinet included the promotion of several of the Prime Minister’s most effective ministers and the inclusion of some newly elected MPs.  

Read more at – http://www.blg.com/en/home/publications/Documents/publication_1875.pdf.

LABOUR AND EMPLOYMENT LAW NEWS, SPRING 2011  

This edition of the Labour and Employment Law News addresses the provision of benefits to employees over the age of 65, practice tips for the preservation of documents in litigation or arbitration and the approach in human rights law to defining “employee” for the purposes of human rights legislation. In addition, two important new pieces of federal legislation that may have a huge impact on your business are explained: the Fighting Internet and Wireless Spam Act and the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act.

Read more at – http://www.blg.com/en/home/publications/Documents/publication_1854.pdf.