The Board operates as an independent, quasi-judicial tribunal constituted under section 6 of the Public Utilities Act.
The Board has mandated responsibilities as set out in the following legislation:
The Public Utilities Act defines the general powers of the Board, granting authority for the general supervision of public utilities to ensure compliance with the law. The public utilities regulated by the Board include Newfoundland Power Inc. and Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro.
The Electrical Power Control Act sets out the power policy of the province and provides the Lieutenant Governor in Council with the authority to refer electrical power matters to the Board. The Board also has responsibility under this Act with respect to the establishment and oversight of water management agreements between power suppliers on rivers.
The Automobile Insurance Act gives the Board responsibility for the general supervision of the rates an insurer charges or proposes to charge for automobile insurance in the Province. The Board also has responsibilities in relation to the underwriting guidelines and risk classification systems of insurers operating in the Province. Under the Insurance Companies Act the Lieutenant Governor in Council can direct the Board to undertake a review of any aspect of insurance in the province.
The Petroleum Products Act sets out the manner in which the Board is required to establish maximum prices for regulated petroleum products in the province.
The Expropriation Act requires the Board, at the request of the Minister of Transportation and Works or the City of St. John’s, to determine the appropriate level of compensation for land expropriated by Government or the City of St. John’s.
The Motor Carrier Act gives the Board the power to grant certificates and approve rates for public service carriers such as ambulance operations and regularly scheduled bus service along the TransCanada Highway.
To deliver its regulatory mandate the Board conducts public hearings, technical conferences, stakeholder meetings, compliance monitoring, audits, detailed technical/financial reviews, and investigations.
The Board is comprised of four full-time commissioners, appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council, including the Chair and Chief Executive Officer and the Vice Chair. The Public Utilities Act gives the Chair and Chief Executive Officer the full authority for the overall operation, management and financial administration of the Board.
The Board is accountable administratively through the Minister of Justice and Public Safety who presents the Board’s annual budget for approval by the Lieutenant Governor in Council and tables its annual report in the legislature. The Board is also subject to the requirements of the Transparency and Accountability Act, which requires the Board to prepare and submit activity plans and annual performance reports.
In making appointments, the Lieutenant-Governor in Council shall take into consideration the need of the board to be composed of commissioners who have expertise in law, engineering, accountancy or finance. A combination of education and experience will be considered.
Members should demonstrate high ethical standards and integrity.
Commissioners are required to work approximately 40 hours per week. There may be additional time commitments required when hearings are ongoing.
Each commissioner shall be appointed for a term of 10 years to hold office during good behaviour. A commissioner is eligible to be appointed for a second term of 10 years.