A community input session into the regulation of Indigenous utilities was held Friday in Williams Lake.

The BC Utilities Commission (BCUC) is currently exploring and seeking feedback on a number of important questions including what are the characteristics of an Indigenous utility with respect to what services are provided, who the services are provided to, should they be regulated and how, and if unregulated how will the interests of indigenous utility ratepayers be protected.

“We had a very informative morning,” BCUC chair and CEO, Dave Morton said.

“We had a member of the public who came up and described his role in a utility that is partly owned by a First Nation group near Prince Rupert, and he discussed a number of issues that he sees and provided us with his and his company’s opinion on various aspects of how utilities like his should be regulated which is exactly the feedback that we’re looking for.”

The Lieutenant Governor in Council requested the BC Utilities Commission to provide recommendations to Government regarding the regulation of Indigenous utilities in British Columbia on March 11, 2019.

The next community input session takes place in Prince Rupert.

“This is an inquiry process that we have used before; we did an inquiry you may recall a couple of years ago into whether the economics of Site C whether it was cheaper to continue or to abandon the project and we’re wrapping an inquiry into electric vehicle charging and how that should be regulated,” Morton said.

“What we do in an inquiry we go out and try to gather as many facts as we can, we try to reach out get as much opinion, and as many comments from people as possible. We also invite interveners to join the proceeding; interveners are groups of people or individuals that have evidence that they want to submit and then they have to be available for questioning. We often then also do these community input sessions where we tour the province and invite anyone to come and provide on an informal basis any comments they wish to the panel, and that’s what we’ve done in this case.”

Those processes Morton added will be finished by November 30, 2019.

“The panel will have reached some conclusions about the recommendations it wants to make and we’ll prepare an interim report which will be ready for December 31st, and then that will go out to all parties for comment for a two month period until the end of January.”