There are two typical methods of review. An application can be reviewed by a paper-based review or by a public hearing. It is at the Board's discretion to decide the appropriate method or venue.
All PUB reviews proceed in accordance with the Rules of Policy and Procedures.
As a quasi-judicial administrative tribunal, the Board maintains a publicly open and accessible hearing room to adjudicate applications. In considering matters of water and wastewater utilities, the Board will often hold a hearing in the applicant's community to encourage stakeholder participation.
Paper based reviews are conducted entirely through written submissions. All evidence, arguments and replies are submitted in writing. The Board decision is a result of a review of the information available at the time of review.
Public hearings are held in a public forum accessible to all. A more formal approach to the application is taken. Typically the hearing process involves the utility, the Board and its counsel, other advisors, interveners, presenters and any witnesses called to testify before the Board. Then the parties present their arguments.
Typically, the Board issues its regulatory decisions by way of a Board Order. These decisions are subject to a review and vary and/or an appeal process.
As an open and transparent body, the PUB welcomes and encourages public participation in its hearings. Public participation ensures that all public issues and perspectives come to the Board’s attention in a transparent process. As such, there are several ways for the public to become involved in any public hearing before the Board:
• You may become involved as an intervener. Interveners are individuals or groups who want to take a position on an application before the Board by attending the hearing, providing information and/or evidence, questioning the applicant, and potentially providing a closing statement of position at the end of the hearing. Interveners are expected to participate actively in the hearing process, including by answering questions posed by the Board and its advisers, as well as the applicant. Parties must apply to become interveners as their costs may be paid by the applicant. The interveners must show that they can provide information that will be of benefit to teh Board when it enters its deliberations.
• You may become involved as a presenter. A presenter is someone who wants to make a statement to the Board about the application being reviewed in a public hearing. Presenters may attend the hearing but are not required to participate in the same way as an intervener. While presenters are not required to pre-register with the PUB, they should notify us before or at the start of the hearing of their intention to present. Presenters are encouraged to also provide a written copy of their presentations.
• You may become involved as an interested citizen. Any member of the public may attend Board hearings, may ask questions about issues, or bring matters of interests to the attention of the PUB outside of a formal hearing. Such interactions with PUB staff and others should be conducted in a structured and collegial manner.
Public Hearing Process
The PUB holds hearings on a regular basis, usually precipitated by an application from one of Manitoba’s public utilities on a matter of interest. Hearings allow the Board to make a fully informed decision with significant public input.
The hearing process proceeds in a relatively uniform manner. It begins with an application from the utility and a public notice informing citizens of the date and time of the hearing as well as the matters of interest set to be examined. A pre-hearing conference is subsequently held to determine which individuals and groups will act as interveners during the official hearing, with potential interveners applying to the PUB. The hearing commences, with examination of the utility taking place at variable times depending on the relative complexity and significance of the matter under scrutiny. The hearing culminates with the Board’s decision, which comes by way of a Board Order. While a news release is typically issued, it is up to the media as to any announcements.
For common questions regarding the Hearing Process, see FAQ.
The hearing process generally begins when someone applies to the Board for a decision on a matter of interest. An applicant may be one of the following:
• A regulated body, such as a utility
• A consumer of a regulated company
• A representative of a consumer or special interest group
Applications for rate changes must demonstrate to the Board that a change is appropriate and in the public interest.
Applicants must provide information to support their requests, and respond to pre-hearing questions from the Board and interveners. Information provided before and at the hearing is examined throughout the review and is usually made available to the public online and through the PUB office.
Notice of Public Hearing
The PUB is mandated to inform the public about issues to be reviewed at a public hearing. Notices of public hearings are usually published in daily and weekly newspapers throughout Manitoba, or posted within a community. Notices may also be mailed or electronically transmitted to individuals, groups or associations who have expressed an interest in the issues. A notice typically provides the following information:
• A brief explanation of the issues
• An indication of the potential impact on ratepayers
• The time, date, and place of a pre-hearing conference and/or the public hearing
• The procedures and process to be followed
Before a public hearing on a rate application from a major provincial utility, the Board may hold a pre-hearing conference in order to accomplish several goals before the official hearing begins.
First, the Board will seek to outline the issues to be addressed during the hearing.Second,the Board will identify interveners and presenters that are both interested and relevant to participate in the hearing process. While presenters do not have to go through the same process that goes into determining interveners, they are encouraged to submit their presentation material in writing and to inform the Board well in advance of their intention to participate. Third,the Board will set a timetable for the exchange of information between the applicant, the Board and any other interested people.Fourth the Board will address any opening motions that may be made by the applicant or any other group, assessing their relevance for the hearing.
At the beginning of a public hearing, the applicant and interveners are asked to summarize their positions. The application is examined by the Board, its advisers, and any interveners. The applicant and interveners are then given an opportunity to make a final statement. When the hearing is over, the Board considers the evidence and a decision is issued. For public hearings, the proceedings are usually recorded by a court reporter, with transcripts available on the PUB website.
During the course of a hearing, interveners and the Board may inquire about a broad range of issues impacting the application under review. The Board is bound by our mandate and enabling legislation, which grants us broad oversight powers with respect to the public utilities under our jurisdiction.
Board Orders state the Board’s decision, recommendations and reasoning. Orders are issued in writing and available to all Manitobans. Board decisions are legally binding subject to appeal by the Manitoba Court of Appeal on questions of law and jurisdiction. All Board Orders
issued are posted on the PUB website.
The Board will reconsider a decision in some circumstances, such as the timely request of the applicant or interested parties, or on our own initiative. However, these situations are rare.