If utilities want to make changes to their delivery rates, alter their ownership or build a natural gas pipeline or new power line of a certain size, they have to file an application with the Ontario Energy Board first and provide details to support their request.
Most often, we make decisions about applications through a public process called a hearing. Depending on the type of application, hearings are either written or face-to-face – a bit like a court proceeding. We call the face-to-face hearings oral hearings. Whether written or oral, the hearing documents are available to you, and if we have an oral hearing, you can attend.
Oral hearings often take place in Toronto, at our offices. To give you better access, we hold some hearings in the community that will be affected by the utility’s application. Oral hearings are held after we receive the utility’s application. Before we make a decision, we review input from groups that represent consumers and other interest groups (called intervenors) – and we consider feedback from you, the consumer! A decision is the outcome of a hearing.
Listen to a hearing
Check our online calendar to find out when oral hearings are held. If you can’t attend in person, you can listen to streaming audio of the live hearing. Also, you can read a transcript of the hearing afterwards – usually the next day.
Visit the current rate applications page to learn the facts and comment on specific applications:
- See what your utility is asking for and why, and provide your comments online
- Find out when upcoming community meetings and hearings are being held so that you can attend
- Read documents related to the case
Hearings and the public interest
Hearings allow us to consider how well the utility’s interests fit with your interests – the very people who are affected by our decisions. Our goal in this process is to align consumers’ needs for good value in the form of reasonable prices, good reliability and quality service with the interests of all Ontarians in having a financially viable energy sector. In other words, hearings help us to determine if utility costs – and the rates that recover those costs – are reasonable for you and for the utility. We expect utilities to become more efficient over time and to continuously improve their service.
What happens at hearings?
The hearing is a court-like process where utilities outline their costs to serve you and make their case. Individual customers and organizations representing consumers and public interest groups can apply to the Ontario Energy Board in advance of a hearing for what is called intervenor status. Intervenors provide their opinions about the utility’s request. Also, Ontario Energy Board staff – our in-house experts – dissect the utility’s application from top to bottom, ask difficult questions, and highlight potential risks and impacts on consumers.