June 15, 2010
SAINT JOHN (CNB) - An options paper aimed at strengthening the Energy and Utilities Board (EUB) to better protect New Brunswick electricity ratepayers was released today by Energy Minister Jack Keir.
The New Brunswick Energy Regulatory Framework: Options for Improvement outlines various options on how to strengthen the regulatory role of the EUB in relation to electricity generation, transmission and distribution.
"A stronger EUB means better protection for New Brunswickers," said Keir. "Reforms to the regulatory framework will make our utility more accountable and more transparent, which is in the best interest of all New Brunswickers."
Among the nine reforms proposed:
"I am seeking input from our energy partners and all New Brunswickers on the proposed changes to the EUB," said Keir. "I expect legislative changes to be brought forward this fall."
The paper as well as information pertaining to the consultation process are available at the Department of Energy website.
The paper was one of several initiatives announced by Keir today to involve the public to ensure New Brunswickers' best interests are being served in the energy sector:
The provincial government is investing $100,000 in Propel ICT, a New Brunswick-based information and communications technology association, to follow up on initiatives resulting from the smart grid summit hosted by the Department of Energy in April, including exploring opportunities for small-scale pilot projects. Keir also released a report on the proceedings of the summit, available on the Department of Energy website.
Smart grid encompasses a range of technologies that enables consumers to use electricity more efficiently and effectively.
"Just as investments in New Brunswick's extensive information and communications technology in the 1990s helped to diversify and grow the province's economy, I am confident that this new green technology holds great opportunities for New Brunswick," said Keir. "Recent significant investments in our ICT network, such as 100-per-cent-broadband Internet coverage across the province, will help position New Brunswick as a leader and centre of excellence in smart grid technology."
The provincial government is actively exploring ways to increase regional co-operation and form partnerships in the energy sector. The Department of Energy is working with regional governments, utilities and system operators to explore ways to increase energy co-operation, integrate new sources of clean and renewable energy, harmonize energy markets, and plan for transmission reliability and capacity upgrades.
"I strongly believe in developing competitive regional energy solutions and will continue to seek opportunities for partnerships," said Keir. "Many discussions have been held over the last few months with our Atlantic Canadian neighbours, and I am confident that these discussions will result in tangible benefits for New Brunswickers."
A summit will be held in July in Saint John to explore ways to increase momentum in the ongoing development of New Brunswick as an energy hub. The summit will include stakeholders representing various organizations, community groups and businesses.
"The provincial government remains committed to the development of the energy hub," Keir said. "Our province's strategic location, as well as a highly-skilled and dedicated workforce, makes New Brunswick an attractive place for businesses in which to invest. It is vital that, as we move forward on the energy file, we look to maximize economic development and employment opportunities for New Brunswickers."
Efficiency / renewables
Keir will be working with Justice and Consumer Affairs Minister Bernard LeBlanc, who is also the minister responsible for public engagement, to determine the best way to involve New Brunswickers on renewable energy development in New Brunswick and improved energy efficiency initiatives. Details on such a process will be announced later this summer.
"The more efficient use of energy, as well the development of renewable energy, will play an integral role in New Brunswick's energy future," said Keir. "I am committed to involving the public in these important aspects of our energy future."
EDITOR'S NOTE: Following is a backgrounder describing the consultation process on the New Brunswick energy regulatory framework. MEDIA CONTACT: Bonnie Doyle Creber, communications, Department of Energy, 506-658-2410.
The New Brunswick energy regulatory framework
The release of the options paper for regulatory reform represents the start of a public consultation process aimed at considering options for an improved regulatory framework for the EUB, particularly in relation to electricity transmission and distribution.
The Department of Energy is inviting New Brunswickers and energy stakeholders to make written submissions. The report can be downloaded from the department's website. The deadline for written submissions is Friday, July 23. The department is encouraging written submissions by e-mail or regular mail about what other options or potential improvements should be considered:
Regulatory Framework Options,
Department of Energy,
1 Germain St., Suite M-100,
Saint John, N.B.
The provincial government will consider all input received from stakeholders and the public in this review process.
The Department of Energy will release to the public a summary of feedback received, together with a list of all respondents. The summary will not attribute comments to any particular respondent. Legislative changes are expected this fall.