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Posted in: Practice & Procedure | Ratemaking | Ontario

Dec 28, 2017

OEB Issues Draft Report on Wireline Pole Attachment Rates

By Fred D. Cass

Earlier this month, the Ontario Energy Board issued a draft report on policies for wireline pole attachment rates charged by electricity distributors for attachments by telecommunication and cable companies to distribution poles. The draft report resulted from the OEB’s policy consultation on wireline pole attachment charges. The OEB has invited comments on the draft report by January 22, 2018.

Together with the issuance of the draft report, the OEB released an expert report provided by Nordicity Group Ltd. The Nordicity report is addressed in a separate energy insider post. As well, the subject of pole attachment charges has been addressed in a number of previous energy insider posts (available here, here, here and here).

According to the draft report, the OEB is aiming to adopt a new province-wide wireline pole attachment rate of $52 per attacher per year per pole. The new charge is based on an updated methodology for determination of pole attachment charges, as well as updated data (from 2010 to 2015) and inflation from 2015 to 2018. The new charge will take effect on the 1st of the month following the issuance of the new policy on a final basis, which is expected to occur in early 2018.

The provincial wireline pole attachment rate will be implemented for all electricity distributors that do not have an OEB-approved specific charge. Electricity distributors may choose to select the provincial charge at the time of rebasing or to use utility-specific costs and seek a utility-specific charge based on the updated methodology. Electricity distributors that choose to apply for a “custom rate” will be required to submit specific inputs from sub-accounts that track costs directly attributed to carrier attachments and to file the OEB’s workform. The OEB’s filing requirements will provide additional details in this regard.

The draft report includes directions for new data requirements expected of electricity distributors, including collection and tracking of the number of attachments on each pole and setting up of sub-accounts to track pole attachment costs directly attributed to carrier attachments.

The OEB plans to adjust the wireline pole attachment rate annually in accordance with the timing described in its filing requirements for incentive rate-setting applications. Further, the OEB is planning to conduct a follow-up policy consultation as Part II of the Pole Attachment Review, once sufficient data is available to inform the review of particular issues, such as allocation of vegetation management costs and whether a value-based approach is appropriate to establish pole attachment charges. In Part II of its Review, the OEB will look for a better understanding of the value to third-party attachers of access to the network of poles used for electricity distribution purposes.

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