BC Utilities Commission Rules that a Strata Corporation’s Propane System Operator is a Public Utility

BC Utilities Commission Rules that a Strata Corporation’s Propane System Operator is a Public Utility

By Paul G. Mendes, Partner
Phone:  604-685-4894
Email:  pgm@lmlaw.ca

Re: Superior Propane at Seascapes Development Ltd. Order G-133-15

The BC Utilities Commission has ruled that the operator of a propane delivery system in a strata development is a “public utility” subject to regulation by the Commission.  Under the terms of the order, the operator must meet certain requirements of the Utilities Commission Act, including filing a schedule of its current rates for review by the Commission.

The case came to the Commission’s attention following complaints from the strata manager and the owners of a 100-unit strata development property known as Seascapes, against Superior Plus LP doing business under the name Superior Propane.  As a result of the Order, the Commission now has the power to approve the rates charged by Superior to the strata, and to determine whether those rates are “just and reasonable”. Superior has been given an opportunity to apply for an exemption under the Utilities Commission Act.

Depending on the outcome of Superior’s application for an exemption, or any appeals, this order may have implications for other strata, especially those that are equipped with geothermal systems and similar utility/energy services.

For jurisdictional reasons, Commission could not examine the legality of this arrangement under the Strata Property ActA previous unreported decision of the BC Supreme Court has questioned the legality of “bulk contracts” between strata corporations and cable/Internet service providers.

WHAT WE DO:  Lesperance Mendes advises strata corporations and property managers on a wide range of matters that are of concern to strata corporations, including contracts, warranties, bylaw enforcement and collections. For more information about our strata property law practice, please contact Paul G. Mendes, partner, at 604-685-4894 or by email at pgm@lmlaw.ca.  You can also follow Paul on Twitter “@stratalawyer” and LinkedIn.

Lesperance Mendes Lawyers
900 Howe St #550, Vancouver, BC V6Z 2M4
(604) 685-3567