FAQs on Project Description

What is a Project Description?

A Project Description describes a project that a company expects to file an application for at a later date. It is written by the company and submitted to the Canada Energy Regulator (CER). A Project Description is not an application; rather, it provides preliminary information about an expected application, allowing the CER to initiate preparatory processes in anticipation of that application. The company will provide a more thorough description and analysis of the proposed project when it submits its formal application, which generally occurs some months after the Project Description is submitted.

The CER’s website provides further information on Pre-Application Project Descriptions, including the types of projects for which a Project Description should be filed and the information that should be included.

Are Project Descriptions publicly available?

Yes.  Project Descriptions submitted to the CER are publicly available via the Regulatory Documents section of the CER’s website and via the section on Major Applications and Projects before the CER.

What is a Project Description used for?

The CER uses a Project Description to initiate certain pre-application activities, such as:

The CER will initiate each of these processes at an appropriate time before the application is submitted.

When does the CER determine the hearing process?

After an application is submitted, the CER will review it and determine whether a hearing is required and if so, whether it is to be a written or an oral hearing. A hearing will always be held for certain types of applications, such as for new interprovincial or international pipelines over 40 kilometers in length (these are known as s. 52 facility applications or Part III applications, referring to the section and part of the Canadian Energy Regulator Act under which they are submitted).

If it will convene a hearing, the CER issues a Hearing Order providing details on the hearing process, including how persons who are directly affected or who have relevant information or expertise can participate and the deadline to apply to intervene. Further information is available on the CER’s website via the Canada Energy Regulator Hearing Process Handbook.

What can I do after a Project Description is filed?

Various people will often undertake different forms of preparation after a Project Description is filed but prior to a hearing, recognizing that time will be limited once a hearing begins. For example:

  • The company that submitted the Project Description will prepare its application while continuing its ongoing consultation and completing field studies.
  • Persons who think they are directly affected or who have relevant information or expertise might use the time to contact the proponent for more information, undertake research, or to commission studies.
  • Individuals and organizations that want to participate might form a group with others who hold common positions or knowledge related to the proposed project so as to present an effective and efficient single voice on one or more issues at a hearing. In addition, as noted in the CER’s Participant Funding Guide, a relevant factor in determining funding provision is whether an applicant for funding would play an important and distinct role in the process.

Who should I contact if I have concerns following submission of a Project Description?

The CER encourages you to contact the company that submitted the Project Description in order to discuss your questions or concerns. This may allow the company to address certain concerns, such as undertaking further study or consultation or modifying the project, prior to submitting its application.

Contact information for the company can be found in the Project Description or via the company’s website.  For questions on process, the CER can be contacted at 1-800-899-1265.

When is the best time for me to make submissions to the CER on the merits of the project?

Because a Project Description is only used by the CER to initiate certain preparatory processes in anticipation of an application, the filing of a Project Description is not the most appropriate trigger for you to make submissions on the merits of the project to the CER.

Instead, you are encouraged to make such submissions after an application is filed and information on how to participate has been issued.  Not only will an application include a more thorough description and analysis of the project, it will also contain the most timely information, as certain details of the project may have changed since the Project Description was submitted (the project may even be put on hold).

Following the application submission, the CER will issue information on the process to be followed, options for public participation, and the availability of participant funding.  This may be in the form of a Hearing Order or Procedural Update. You are encouraged to wait until such information is issued before submitting comments on the project to the CER, applying to participate in the process, or applying for participant funding.

The CER will generally not respond to letters or submissions on such matters prior to issuing process and participation information.  Please check the CER’s website regularly for updates.

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