Ontario Energy Board amends licence for new transmitter

November 7, 2011

The Ontario Energy Board has ordered that the transmitter licence for TransCanada Transmission (TCT) be amended to change the effective date to the earlier of: (i) the date on which TCT is designated as a developer of transmission assets in Ontario pursuant to a Board designation process: or (ii) the date on which TCT applies for approval to own and/or operate specific transmission facilities in Ontario.

The order is effectively a reversal of the Board’s earlier decision denying TCT an exemption to certain obligations under the Board’s Affiliate Relationships Code for Electricity Distributors and Transmitters (ARC). TCT was particularly concerned with a requirement in the ARC that prohibited it from sharing employees that have access to confidential customer information with other TransCanada affiliates. TCT argued that this requirement drove-up costs and was unnecessary as newly licenced transmitters do not yet have any customers in Ontario. 

The Board initially refused to grant an exemption because it was concerned that TCT could receive confidential information as part of the designation process. The Board was willing to revisit that decision in light of the release of the OPA’s report on the East-West Tie Line and the IESO’s feasibility study of that line, which will form the basis for the Board’s designation process for the East-West Tie Line. Both of these reports are publicly available and do not contain confidential customer information. On that basis, the Board concluded that “the original concern has been diminished sufficiently to warrant a different approach to balancing the considerations of ensuring appropriate protections through licensing requirements and the desirability of reducing unnecessary barriers to entry for prospective transmitters.” The Board indicated that if becomes necessary to provide confidential information to potential transmitters through the designation process, that issue can be addressed in the context of the specific circumstances.

The Board has invited other newly licenced transmitters to apply for a licence amendment to bring their licences into line with that of TCT. The Board suggested that this could be done without a hearing.

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