​All new electric transmission facilities (with the exception of a small number of projects classified as critical transmission infrastructure) require two separate approvals from the AUC: (i) an approval of the need for new facilities as set out in a needs identification document (NID) filed by the Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO) under the Electric Utilities Act; and (ii) an approval of a facility application for the specific siting or routing of the new facilities, which is made by a transmission facility owner under the Hydro and Electric Energy Act. In NID applications, the AESO must demonstrate the need for new transmission, and propose a transmission solution to meet that need. In a facility application, the Commission considers whether approval of the proposed facilities is in the public interest having regard to the project’s social, economic and environmental effects. NID and facility applications may be considered by the Commission in separate proceedings (if considered independently, the facility proceeding must follow NID approval), or in a combined proceeding.

The issues typically considered in combined NID/facility decisions include:

  • The rationale for new transmission, including:
    • Generation or load growth
    • Reliability
    • System access service
  • Choice of NID alternative – includes cost of alternative, routing issues, technical feasibility of alternative.
  • Consultation – includes adequacy, scope of consultation with landowners, other interested parties.
  • Property impacts – includes property value, agricultural impacts, business impacts, future development impacts.
  • Health and safety – includes electromagnetic frequency (EMF).
  • Routing and siting – includes route development, site/route choice (preferred vs alternative), transportation utility corridors, structure choice, construction impacts.
  • Environment – includes wildlife, plants, native prairie, water and water crossings.
  • Electrical effects  includes pipeline interference and mitigation, stray voltage, radio frequency interference.
  • Project cost – includes costs of preferred vs alternative routes.
  • Noise  includes noise impact assessment, post construction monitoring.
  • First Nations – includes consultation, impacts to constitutional rights.
  • Critical transmission infrastructure – whether facilities are critical transmission infrastructure as defined in the legislation.
  • Uncontested – applications with no outstanding objections, or objections were received and the AUC determined that the parties did not meet the test for standing.

Decisions for reference