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Natural Resources Law - Public utilities - Regulatory tribunals - Appeals - Provincial boards, tribunals and commissions -

Thursday, November 24, 2016 @ 7:00 PM  

Application by the Office of the Utilities Consumer Advocate of Alberta for permission to appeal two decisions by the Alberta Utilities Commission. In 2004, FortisAlberta (Fortis) acquired lands for construction of a proposed centralized inventory facility. In 2015, Fortis reviewed its plans and decided the lands were not required, as a decentralized approach was more desirable. Fortis accordingly requested the Commission’s consent to disposition of the property. The Commission concluded the lands were no longer required by Fortis, and that customers would not suffer a rate or service impact by the proposed disposition. The Commission determined that the lands would remain in the determination of the rate base until rebasing in 2017. The applicant took issue with the timing of the land’s removal from Fortis’s rate base, alleging removal should have occurred in 2011. The applicant sought permission to appeal the Commission’s approval of the proposed disposition and a second review and variance ruling that upheld the approval decision.

HELD: Application dismissed. A challenge to the Commissions’ ratemaking authority went to the core of its mandate and expertise, thereby attracting a standard of reasonableness and a high threshold to obtain permission to appeal. The discretion regarding the timing of removal of an asset from the rate base was fundamental to the Commission’s role. The approach taken by the Commission was reasonable and well within its mandate. No unreasonable exercise of discretion was established. The applicant’s proposed grounds of appeal reflected disagreement over the weighing of the evidence, or at best, questions of mixed fact and law that did not justify leave to appeal.