Open to all
Rate review panel to live-stream public meeting dealing with SaskPower application
It’s no secret that public meetings for things like rate review panels are poorly attended.
Unless there is some controversial issue on the table, most people don’t see the value in slogging to the closest gathering after a full day of work. For many, driving hours to get to either Regina or Saskatoon is prohibitive to the point of impossible. But, at least for the Saskatchewan Rate Review Panel, that’s all changing.
“This will be the best way to offer people the opportunity to partake in our public meetings, who just can’t make that drive to either Saskatoon or Regina,” said panel member Daryl Hasein on Wednesday.
“If I’m in Prince Albert or something like that, I really don’t want to have to drive all the way to Saskatoon, but I can log in and it’s just like I’m there in the audience.”
SaskPower applied for an increase of five per cent in August that would take effect in March 2018.
The company says the average residential customer would be paying about $6 more per month.
The Crown corporation already hiked rates by 3.5 per cent in January, and before that implemented a five per cent increase in July 2016. In a release, the company cited a projected increase in capital spending — from $886 million in the past year to $1.2 billion in 2017-18 — as part of the reason for the changes
SaskPower representatives will go before the panel Oct. 3 in Regina and then again Oct. 16 in Saskatoon to defend the Crown corporation’s application to increase the rate it charges customers by five per cent.
People who cannot make it to those meetings in person are invited to attend virtually by watching the meeting on the panel’s Facebook page, where it will be live-streamed.
They will also be able to post questions — either for specific presenters or the room in general — and see them answered in realtime.
“I think this is great. It’s always good to get people involved in decisions that matter to them, to make sure these decisions are made out in the open as much as possible,” said Todd MacKay, Prairie director for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.
“It’s important for the people who have concerns, first of all to know what’s going on, and secondly to have a chance to make their voice heard. We can’t always all get our way every time, but at least we can have our say. Improving transparency is always a good thing.”
This is not the first time the panel has broadcast its meetings. Hasein said they had originally tried a webinar format, but it did not allow people to see the presenters or ask questions.
They moved to an interactive setup for a review of a SaskEnergy application, which saw a maximum of 10 people watching at once.
“It wasn’t a lot, but not bad for the very first one,” he said.
“The SaskEnergy review at that time, it was such a minor one, we didn’t get a lot of pick-up on it.
“Usually we get a lot more activity with SaskPower, and we get a whole lot more whenever we get into doing an SGI one.”
Hasein said the panel does not have any firm estimates for how many people will view the live stream for the upcoming meetings.
We’re hoping, that with our getting this out in front of people, that it will pick up,” he said.
“Hopefully we’ll get a bunch of people.
“It would be nice to have 100 sign on and come in this way.”
Anyone interested can go to saskratereview.ca and follow the links to the SaskPower application.
A link on that page will take them right to the Facebook page and livestream when the meeting is under way.
I think this is great. It’s always good to get people involved in decisions that matter to them, to make sure these decisions are made out in the open as much as possible. Todd MacKay, Prairie director for the Canadian Taxpayers Fderation