Frequently Asked Questions
Questions about the Public Utilities Board
- What is the Public Utilities Board of Manitoba?
The Public Utilities Board of Manitoba is commonly referred to as the PUB. It is a regulatory Board that is an independent, quasi-judicial tribunal. The PUB acts in the public interest by approving rates that consider both the impact to ratepayers and financial requirements of the utility. The PUB supports reliable, safe and sustainable utilities for Manitobans. The PUB values and encourages the participation of those affected by its decisions.
- Who or what does the PUB regulate?
The PUB regulates the public utilties in Manitoba, including water and wastewater, natural gas, propane utilities, and gas pipelines subject to provincial jurisdiction. PUB considers rates applications for the provision of: electricity by Manitoba Hydro; rates for natural gas supplied by Centra Gas; rates for propane supplied by Stittco; rate bases and premiums charged for compulsory driver and Basic vehicle insurance provided by Manitoba Public Insurance; and rates charged by water and wastewater utilities with exception of the City of Winnipeg.
For more information please see What We Do and What We Don't Do.
- What kind of complaints does PUB take?
While the PUB does NOT regulate the daily operations of the regulated utilities, it does encourage all matters of utility complaints to be directed to the utility and/or municipality first. The PUB should be the last resort for resolution. A review of the matter may result in costs being incurred by both the applicant and the utility.
- What process should I follow to make an enquiry or complaint ?
Please see Make a Complaint.
- What should I do if I can't find what I am looking for on this website?
Please see Contact Us.
Questions about the PUB Hearing Process
- May I attend a hearing just to listen?
Yes. Hearings are open to the public and we encourage interested citizens to attend our hearings and, if they wish, become involved as presenters or interveners during the hearing process.
- How do I participate in a rate hearing?
Please see Hearing Process.
- What is a presenter and how do I register 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. Presenters should pre-register with the Board by completing the Public Presenter Application Form and submitting it to the Board. They should notify the Board a minimum of 2 weeks before or at the start of the hearing of their intention to present, or by a deadline provided in any Public Notice. Presenters are encouraged to also provide electronic and written copies of their presentations.
- What is an intervener?
Interveners are individuals or groups who want to take a position or express a concern about an application. An intervener can be opposed to, or supportive of, the applicant’s case as presented to the Board. Interveners are expected to actively participate in the hearing in order to present their information and evidence, and to pose questions to the applicant and to the Board.
- How do I register as an intervener for a hearing?
If you wish to register as an intervener, you must submit an application form to the PUB offices by the deadline stated in the notice of hearing. The application form must be specific and detailed. Prospective interveners must understand the issues under examination in the hearing and must outline the issues which they intend to focus on. We look favourably on interveners who are factual, specific and thorough in outlining their concerns and demonstrate a position that does not duplicate the positions of any of the other parties and will provide the Board with information which will assist in making its decision. Try to suggest reasonable alternatives to the current course of action, as well as any conditions you wish to see imposed on the utility as a result of the hearing process. The PUB reserves the right to approve or deny intervener applications. You must also, re-register and submit an application for each hearing.
- What is the next step for an intervener after registering?
Once you are registered as an intervener for the hearing, you need to prepare for the hearing. Public hearings of the Board are frequently detailed, thorough and time-consuming. Ensure that you are well prepared to discuss the issues that matter to you, and to thoughtfully answer questions posed by both the applicant and members of the Board.
- May I get information from the applicant?
Yes. The company is required to provide parties to the hearing with a copy of its application, including any supporting information relevant to the hearing. PUB staff may assist interveners in collecting relevant information from the applicant if needed.
- What are the rules of practice?
The rules governing the practice of a Board hearing are outlined in the rules of policy and procedure. This document should be consulted by all hearing participants before proceedings commence.
- How long does a PUB public hearing last?
Every case is different. Hearings may last anywhere from one day to several weeks, depending on the application and the complexity of issues being considered by the Board.
- Do I have to be there for the whole hearing?
No, particularly if you are a presenter. However, in the interest of restraining regulatory costs, interveners cannot ask questions covered by others during their absence. As such, we expect that interveners will actively participate in the hearing throughout its duration.
- Should I form a group to intervene?
The research and preparation required to participate as an intervener at a Board hearing is extensive, requiring a great deal of time and effort. A group submission may be helpful if you wish to mitigate the costs associated with such an investment of time and energy.
Moreover, the Board is always interested in learning from as many members of the public as possible as we seek to determine the public interest. A group submission demonstrates broad support for the views you wish to express.
- Do I need a lawyer to take part in a Board hearing?
No, particularly if you simply want to make a presentation and not cross-examine a utility or other witnesses. However, presenters and interveners may use the services of a lawyer, other interested citizens or groups, in preparing a presentation. Board staff are available to consult with participants.
Participants who want to intervene generally represent a private company, association or special interest group. They generally cross-examine witnesses or present final arguments. Legal counsel or other professional advice can be helpful. However, intervening is possible without a lawyer.
- Who pays the costs for participating in a public hearing?
Costs incurred by the PUB, directly or indirectly, are charged to the regulated utility, and are usually reflected later in utility rates. An intervener to a Board hearing may apply to recover hearing costs. The applications are considered by the PUB under Section 43 of the Rules of Practice and Procedure. The PUB does not award costs to presenters, government agencies or private firms with a financial interest in the proceedings.
For eligible interveners, Section 43 outlines the following criteria the Board uses to assess the costs for an applicant:
- The level of contribution to the proceeding made by the person who is asking for an award of costs
- Evidence of an intervener's responsible co-operation with other interveners
- Evidence of the interveners financial need
- Evidence of the intervener representing a significant group of consumers or ratepayers
- Can I recover the cost of lost wages to attend the hearing?
No. You can only apply for out-of-pocket expenses such as travel and meals. Such costs are rarely awarded and are reserved for interveners.
- Is a consumer who makes an application liable for all costs?
Yes, though this rarely happens. It is best to ask about costs before making an application to the Board.