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Description of Duties for Council Members

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Description of Duties of Council Members

Nunavut Utility Rates Review Council (URRC)

The URRC is a technical body and multi-disciplinary in its considerations involving accounting, economics, engineering and law. Obviously, it is not necessary to be a member of one of these professions, but an ability to understand the elements of them is necessary. The Council retains a consultant with a great deal of experience in utility regulation who assists the Council members in analyzing and understanding applications and responding to members’ questions. Each new member can avail of a training course to enable them to understand the method of regulation - usually preceded by an in-house briefing by the Chair.

The Council regulates the QEC on a 'Rate Base/Rate of Return' method to arrive at a 'Revenue Requirement', which is the amount of money the utility will need to collect from its customers to cover its operating costs, pay for its equipment and provide a return for its shareholder (GN) - this is the first phase of each major general rate application. The first element is very much an accounting exercise based on forecasts, which the Council analyzes. Based on the evidence, the Council will then decide the appropriate 'Rate Base', which is usually a different number than that applied for. The Rate of Return is decided on after analysis and a review of market conditions etc. The Council holds Public Hearings across Nunavut before issuing a decision.

Phase 2 of a rate case involves a process of analyzing what part of the utility's operation causes the costs, then which customer class is responsible (i.e.. residential, commercial, industrial, street lighting) and finally setting rates for each class - again this is through a public hearing process following an analysis by the Council.

There is a lot of required reading for a Council member when an application is made and with the training provided in the past. With the help of the consultant, counsel and discussion among members, the Council achieves a good understanding of for the applications being considered and is able to render good common sense decisions.

Under section 7 of the URRC Act, the purposes of the Review Council are to:

  1. advise the responsible Minister of a designated utility concerning the imposition of rates and tariffs in accordance with sections 11 to 18;
  2. advise the responsible Minister of a utility other than a designated utility with regard to any questions that the responsible Minister refers to it concerning rates, tariffs and rate structures;
  3. advise the responsible Minister for any utility concerning any matter related to the utility that is referred to it by the responsible Minister on the advice of the Executive Council;
  4. advise any Minister concerning any matter related to charges for the provision of goods and services that is referred to it by the Minister on the advice of the Executive Council;
  5. advise the Minister responsible for the Qulliq Energy Corporation concerning applications for permission for major capital projects under section 18.1 of the Qulliq Energy Corporation Act. S.Nu. 2010,c.3,s.18; S.Nu. 2010,c.6,s.13.

In summary, the Council requires members who are generalist with common sense.

Time Requirements

A quiet month may require 16/20 hours (2 to 2 1/2 days), reading material and reviewing draft decisions which are put together by the consultant, counsel and Council Chair. Once or twice every second year, a busy month would require the same perhaps a little more, plus 7-10 days travelling for public hearings. The public hearings are scheduled well in advance - 2 to 3 months ahead of the actual hearing.

There are times when the Council does not have something before it. Material arrives intermittently, enabling Council members to spread their review of each application over a reasonable time frame. However, approaching the time when a decision is to be issued, it is important that the material be dealt with promptly. The Council may issue anywhere from one to four decisions a year.


There is on the job and in house training. There is also formal training available to members from universities in both Canada and the United States. Attendance at these universities is based on both need and available funding through the budget of the URRC.

(C) Copyright 2011 URRC