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Rate re­view panel to live-stream pub­lic meet­ing deal­ing with SaskPower ap­pli­ca­tion

Moose Jaw Times Herald - - COMING UP - SARAH LADIK

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 saskratere­ 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

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