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The Alberta Utilities Commission is making things simpler for Alberta’s electric transmission and gas utility pipeline companies by adopting a trusted traveler approach for low-risk projects in place of its standard application process. This AUC pilot project uses a simple, checklist-based approach for applications for minor substation and transmission line alterations and time extensions on the electricity side, and a suite of what is termed Tier 1 applications for gas utility pipelines. The gas pipeline application types include record amendments, surface pipeline removals, low-pressure conversions, maximum operating pressure changes, and certain pipeline splits and abandonments. The project was introduced in Bulletin 2020-15, issued on April 29, 2020.
The new approach will also be faster: The AUC’s goal is to issue amended approvals (if necessary) within five business days of receiving a properly completed checklist application form, after assessing eligibility as a checklist application.
The pilot project is intended to reduce regulatory burden by using a more proportionate and efficient approach, two principles highlighted in Alberta’s Red Tape Reduction Act. In October 2019, at the AUC Regulatory Burden Roundtable, the AUC heard that an expedited approach to low‑risk applications by established applicants was desirable, and could be used effectively.
Until now, applicants were required to file an application and all supporting documents such as environmental evaluations, participant involvement program summaries, etc., which could include multiple documents.
During the year-long pilot project, applicants will only be required to file a single-page checklist confirming that the regulatory requirements for the application have been met and, in some cases, a draft of the amended approval or licence they are requesting.
To ensure regulatory requirements are met, the AUC intends to audit between 10 and 15 per cent of applications to ascertain compliance.