The Board is an independent, quasi-judicial regulatory body appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council, and operates primarily under the authority of the Public Utilities Act, R.S.N. 1990. The Board was established in 1949.
The Board is responsible for the regulation of the electric utilities in the province to ensure that the rates charged are just and reasonable, and that the service provided is safe and reliable.
In 2004, the Board has received the added responsibility for ensuring fairness in marketing of petroleum products throughout the province in accordance with the Petroleum Products Act.
The Board is also responsible for the supervision of rates charged by automobile insurers for the various automobile insurance coverages, limited regulation of the motor carrier industry in relation to certain passenger and ambulance operations as well as conducting hearings and other required activities under the Expropriation Act.
The Board conducts Public Hearings of a quasi-judicial nature, in accordance with the provisions of the Public Enquiries Act and the Board's regulations -Newfoundland Regulations 39196. The Orders issued by the Board as a result of Public Hearings have the force of law and can only be appealed to the Supreme Court of Newfoundland, Court of Appeal.
The Board's jurisdiction is defined by the following legislation which it administers:
i) The Public Utilities Act, R.S.N. 1990
ii) The Electrical Power Control Act
iii) Petroleum Products Act
iv) The Automobile Insurance Act
v) The Motor Carrier Act
vi) The Expropriation Act
vii) The Act to Amend the Electrical Power Control Act
viii) The Motor Vehicle Transport Act
ix) The Public Utilities Acquisition of LandsAct
While many responsibilities are conferred upon the Board by way of the foregoing statutes, the Board is most well known for its following duties:
The Public Utilities Act, R.S.N. 1990, defines the general powers of the Board. The Act states that the Board has the general supervision of public utilities to ensure compliance by public utilities with the law. The public utilities regulated by the Board are Newfoundland Light and Power Co. Limited, Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro and Deer Lake Power Company Limited.
The Electrical Power Control Act 1994, an Act to Amend the Hydro Corporation Act and other Acts, proclaimed in January 1996, empower the Board to regulate Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro in the same fashion as it has regulated Newfoundland Light and Power Co. Limited. Prior to this enactment, the Board could only review and recommend to Government the rate charged for power by Hydro. The Board now has the authority to order the rate schedule itself using tests consistent with generally accepted sound public utility practices. The Lieutenant-Governor in Council retains the right to refer to the Board matters relating to rates and other issues on electrical power utilities.
The Petroleum Products Act, In addition to the powers conferred on the board under this Act, the powers, practices, procedures and immunities of the board under the Public Utilities Act apply to the board in carrying out its duties under this Act. The board has the authority
(a) to set, and shall set the maximum wholesale and retail prices that a wholesaler and a retailer may charge for heating fuel and motor fuel; and
(b) to determine the minimum and maximum mark up between the wholesale price to the retailer and the retail price to the consumer of heating fuel and motor fuel.
The Automobile Insurance Act, R.S.N. 1990, states that the Board has the general supervision of the rates an insurer charges or proposes to charge for
automobile insurance. Matters respecting insurance, other than the rates charged, are under the responsibility of the Superintendent of Insurance, Commercial and Corporate Affairs Branch of the Department of Government Services and Lands.
The Expropriation Act, assigns to the Board the role of arbitrator, at the request of the Minister of Work Services and Transportation, to determine the appropriate level of compensation for land expropriated by Government.
The Motor Carrier Act gives the Board the power to grant certificates and
approve rates for public service carriers such as regularly scheduled bus service along the Trans Canada Highway and ambulance operators. All matters other than the processing of applications for certificates, and amendments to certificates such as inspection and enforcement, are the responsibility of the Government Services Branch of the Department of Government Services and Land.
- It is anticipated that the Board's regulatory role in public-passenger transportation will be eliminated with the complete deregulation of the transisland bus service, and its regulatory role in the provision of ambulance services will be transferred to the Regional Health Care Boards established by the Provincial Government. As a result, the Board has opted not to dedicate time to this area during the strategic planning process.
On May 15, 1996, the Public Utilities Board Regulations, 1996 under the Public Utilities Act, R. S. N. 1990 came into force under the authority of Section 20 of the Act with the approval of Lieutenant-Governor in Council. These new regulations reflect today's regulatory environment and reflect effective and efficient policies and procedures.