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The AUC uses an established process to review applications to protect social, economic and environmental interests of Alberta
The AUC uses a proven, established process to review social, economic and environmental impacts of facility projects to determine if approval of a project is in the public interest.
The AUC considers applications requesting approval of the need for transmission development and facilities applications seeking approval to construct, operate, alter, and decommission electric and natural gas facilities. Applications, as specified in AUC Rule 007, are required for:
Sometimes the Alberta Electric System Operator’s needs identification document application is considered together with a facility application in a single proceeding; sometimes separate proceedings are held to consider each application.
An applicant seeking approval of a proposed utility development project is required to engage in a participant involvement program prior to filing an application with the AUC. The public involvement program involves consultation with persons whose rights may be directly and adversely affected by the proposed project so that concerns may be raised, addressed and, if possible, resolved.
The application guidelines and requirements for facility applications can be found in AUC Rule 007: Applications for Power Plants, Substations, Transmission Lines, Industrial System Designations, Hydro Developments and Gas Utility Pipelines.
Potentially affected parties are strongly encouraged to participate in the public consultation, also called a participant involvement program. Early, active and ongoing discussions with an applicant may lead to greater influence on project planning and what is submitted to the AUC for approval.
When the applicant has concluded its consultation with potentially affected parties and the participant involvement requirements have been completed, the applicant files its application through the AUC online public filing system, called the eFiling System.
AUC staff members review each application submitted to verify that all of the application requirements in AUC Rule 007 have been met before an application is deemed complete. If all of the required information is not provided, the application may be closed or missing information will be requested of the applicant. AUC Rule 007 specifies, among other requirements, that applicants must submit the results of a public involvement program in its application that includes information about how applicants consulted and notified stakeholders and Indigenous groups and identifies any unresolved objections and concerns about the project.
When the AUC receives an application it is assigned a proceeding number and the AUC generally mails a notice of application directly to those who live, operate a business or occupy land in the project area who may be directly and adversely affected if the AUC approves the application. The notice initiates the opportunity for formal intervention in the proceeding to consider an application or applications. The notice of application will also set out important dates and information about where to find the application and other items being considered. The five-digit eFiling System proceeding number in the notice is the most efficient way to find information about a proposed project through the AUC website.
Prior to the submission deadline provided in the notice, formal submissions of outstanding concerns and unresolved objections about a project may be submitted to the AUC. To submit a concern, participants will need to register to participate in the proceeding, which involves providing a brief written statement called a statement of intent to participate. Submissions are filed electronically through the eFiling System. The information filed becomes part of the public record and is an important part of the process to ensure that outstanding concerns are heard, understood and considered.
The AUC uses the information gathered through statement of intent to participate submissions to decide whether to hold a hearing on the application(s). The AUC must hold a hearing if a concerned person can demonstrate that they have rights that may be directly or adversely affected by the AUC’s decision on the application. Such a person is said to have standing before the AUC. If the AUC decides to hold a hearing, the AUC will provide further opportunities for participants with standing to ask the applicant questions on the public record and present their position on the application either in writing or in person. Hearings may be held in writing, in person or virtually through web-conference software.
Subject to some limited exceptions, all information and materials provided as part of an AUC proceeding will be publicly available through the eFiling System. The AUC’s treatment of some types of information as confidential is rare and only available under limited circumstances to ensure that the AUC’s process is open and transparent.
The AUC supports efforts to reach a mutually agreeable outcome among the applicant and affected parties. The AUC encourages the applicant and those who have filed a statement of intent to participate to continue to attempt to resolve any outstanding issues. If all concerns can be satisfactorily resolved this may eliminate the need for a formal hearing. However, if there continues to be unresolved issues, those matters will typically be addressed in an AUC hearing.
The AUC will issue a notice of hearing if a person with standing continues to have legitimate unresolved concerns with the application. The notice of hearing will provide a hearing date and location, or specify if the hearing will be held in writing or virtually. When the AUC holds a public hearing, registered parties are given the opportunity to express their views directly to a panel of Commission members. Any member of the public can listen to an in-person or virtual oral hearing. An oral public hearing operates similar to a court proceeding.
Participants in a hearing can either represent themselves or be represented by a lawyer. In addition, participants may hire experts to assist in preparing and presenting evidence to support their position.
The AUC’s goal is to issue its written decision no more than 90 days after the close of record. The AUC can approve, or deny an application and can also make its approval conditional upon terms or conditions. AUC decisions are publicly available through the AUC website at www.auc.ab.ca.
An applicant or participant in a proceeding may formally ask the Court of Appeal of Alberta for permission to appeal an AUC decision. An application for permission to appeal must be filed within 30 days from the date the decision is issued.
An applicant or participant in a proceeding can also ask the AUC to review its decision. An application to review a decision must be filed within 60 days from the date the decision is issued and satisfy the limited grounds described in AUC Rule 016: Review of Commission Decisions.
An applicant that receives approval to build and operate a facility from the AUC is expected to follow through on any commitments it has made to parties and must adhere to any conditions that were set out in that approval. If concerns about compliance with approval conditions and post-construction operations cannot be resolved with the applicant, they can be brought to the AUC’s attention for consideration. The AUC has significant compliance and enforcement powers for all approved applications.