The Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) is the single regulator of energy development in Alberta. With a mandate to ensure energy activities are safe, environmentally responsible, and closely managed, the AER has the authority to review and make decisions on proposed developments, take enforcement action if companies fail to comply with requirements, regularly inspect activities, and hold hearings on proposed energy developments.
You may be eligible to participate in a public hearing if you are a person, organization, or company who shows through a written submission that you may be directly and adversely affected if the AER approves a proposed energy development, and that you have been unable to resolve outstanding concerns with the applicant through negotiations or alternative dispute resolution (ADR).
Here are five things you should know about getting involved in hearings:
- Statements of concern are required before the AER will conduct a hearing.
Community apprehensions regarding energy projects are often settled through an ADR process. If ADR is successful, or there are no statements of concern filed with the regulator, no hearing is required. Therefore, it is important to file a statement of concern with the AER if you believe the matter should move to a hearing. This is not a submission to participate in a hearing; it is a written statement to express concern about a specific project application. See section 4.3 of The Hearing Process for the Alberta Energy Regulator for details on how to file a statement of concern.
- AER hearings are open to the public to observe, but not everyone can participate.
Based on received statements of concern, the AER may decide to conduct a hearing. The AER will issue a notice of hearing, which it will post on its website and possibly in local newspapers. If you wish to participate in a hearing, you must make a submission to be an intervener to the AER, and you must provide a copy of your submission to the applicant. The AER will review your submission and decide if you may participate. See section 6.2 of The Hearing Process for the Alberta Energy Regulator for details on how to file a submission. If no submissions are received or all the interveners withdraw, a hearing may be cancelled.
- You can file a group submission.
Preparing a submission can be time-consuming. If other people or organizations share your concerns, you may file a group submission. This can help strengthen your position, as it demonstrates to the AER you are not alone in your views. You must designate a contact person for the collective when filing a group submission.
- Certain AER decisions can be appealed.
An appeal may be made to the Alberta Court of Appeal on grounds that the AER did not have the authority to make the decision or made a mistake about the law. You must apply to the Court of Appeal to obtain permission to appeal the AER’s decision within one month after the hearing panel’s decision is announced.
- You can involve a lawyer.
Although not required, having a lawyer represent you or your group during an AER hearing may be beneficial. A lawyer can help present your case, make arguments on what the AER’s decision should be, and arrange for experts if needed. You may also want to ask a lawyer for help with completing and filing your statement of concern and submission to be an intervener.
Following the hearing, an intervener might qualify for recovery of legal and other costs. To qualify, you must file a cost claim with the AER. The AER considers the request and may order the applicant to pay the costs. Learn more by reading Directive 031: REDA Energy Cost Claims.