2021–22 Annual Report of the Commission of the Canada Energy Regulator – What We Achieved

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Improving Regulatory Proceedings

During its second full year, the Commission’s adjudicative and regulatory processes continued with limited pandemic disruption. The Commission maintained regulatory stability, predictability, certainty, and process continuity despite COVID-19 restrictions. In particular, the Commission continued its adjudicative proceedings, both written and virtual, which allowed the Commission to make timely decisions for those who rely on and participate in its proceedings.

As required by the CER Act (section 6 (d)), the Commission’s proceedings were fair, inclusive transparent and efficient; they were also accessible, and respected the open-court principle.

The Commission also worked closely with a variety of stakeholders seeking to re-imagine certain aspects of the participants’ experience in a hearing process; this action led to the CER’s creation of the Participation Portal (portal). The portal improves the participants’ access to the hearing process, its transparency, and generally helps better and more efficiently meet the needs of hearing participants.

Benefiting from public comments, the Commission issued updates to the Filing Manual sections related to abandonment and decommissioning. Ongoing reviews and technical updates to the Filing Manual will continue throughout 2022 and 2023 and will include – among others - sections related to supply and markets, confidentiality, and variance applications. These updates are collectively aimed at increasing transparency, clarifying filing requirements, and facilitating efficient decision-making.

During 202122, the Commission also completed its adjudication of all applications filed under the National Energy Board Act. All matters now adjudicated by the Commission were filed under the CER Act.

The Commission is committed to efficiency and a timely rendering of decisions. In 202122, the Commission met all applicable legislated time limits. Under the CER Act, the Lead Commissioner sets a time limit for certain types of applications which must not exceed the maximum number of days specified in the CER Act; the Commission must complete its assessment and make its recommendation or decision within this time limit. The Commission continues to explore all opportunities to improve timing and efficiencies. Appendix C provides further detail on applications that were subject to Time Limits.

Seeking to enhance transparency, the Commission began identifying the names of decision makers on all its regulatory decisions. Effective January 17, 2022, all issued correspondence relating to a Commission final decision identifies the specific decision makers.

With the aim of providing easier access to all to Commission decisions, the groundwork was laid to have these decisions available in the Canadian Legal Information Institute database. In addition, the CER inaugurated the decision-in-brief format (accompanies the reasons for decision), which provides a short summary of a Commission decision.

The Commission exercises its power and performs its duties and functions in a manner that respects the Government of Canada’s commitments with respect to the rights of the Indigenous peoples of Canada. Throughout 2021–22, the Commission welcomed the active participation of numerous Indigenous peoples in its regulatory hearing processes and received Indigenous Knowledge orally at multiple occasions from Elders and Knowledge Keepers in respect of the impacts of various proposed projects. The Commission acknowledges and values the diversity of cultural practices, traditions and worldviews held by various Indigenous peoples and continues to encourage their meaningful participation in its regulatory proceedings.

The Commission is committed to continuous improvement. To this end, the Commission engaged in regular dialogues with counterparts across Canada and the globe, and continued attending, organizing, and hosting virtual conferences, webinars and other educational offerings through Canada’s Energy and Utility Regulators Association, the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, and the Canadian Council of Administrative Tribunals. Participation in the Council of Federal Tribunal Chairs, the Commission de régulation de l’énergie via Regule.Fr (an international French speaking network of energy regulators) and other networks of adjudicators has benefited the Commission by providing a setting for dialogue, learning, and the sharing of best practices. These liaisons also enable Commissioners to tap into the expertise from those in the regulatory and administrative law community, all while contributing some of its own expertise.

The Commission received positive participant feedback concerning their virtual hearing experiences; the Commission will consider participant feedback and what it has learned, to discern what should be included in hearing processes going forward.

To learn more about work in 202122 of the CER, please see the 2021–22 Annual Report of the Canada Energy Regulator.

Highlights from Regulatory Proceedings

Last year, Commissioners adjudicated and released decisions on 771 pipeline applications, powerlines, tolls and tariffs, export and import licences, exploration, and production, leave to open and other matters that spanned the energy infrastructure lifecycle (please see Appendix B and the Summary of CER Commission Decisions and Recommendations for more details). For the year 2021–22, the Commission issued:

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Icon – Pipeline
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Infrastructure decisions


Tolls and Tariffs decisions


Export and Import decisions


Exploration and Production decisions


Other decisions


Leave to Open orders

Overall, there was a small decline in the number of applications received by the Commission compared to the previous year. This was seen in the smaller number of Infrastructure Applications, Export and Import Applications, Exploration and Production Applications, and Leave to Open Applications. While the appendices contain further information related to all Commission decisions and recommendations, some key highlights are provided below.

For the Trans Mountain Expansion Project, the Commission completed the detailed route hearings for the entirety of the project, namely 100 per cent of the nearly 1000 km long route. The Commission issued decisions related to two Notices of Constitutional Question in which Trans Mountain Pipeline ULC (Trans Mountain) sought relief from the requirement to obtain certain municipal bylaw authorizations from the City of Burnaby. The Commission also received and adjudicated multiple minor route deviations, right of entry, and utility crossing applications related to the project. During the last fiscal year, the Commission also completed its first facilities hearing pursuant to the CER Act, namely Trans Mountain’s Coldwater West Alternative Route Variance.

The Commission regulates pipeline tolls and tariffs under its jurisdiction so that they are just and reasonable and to ensure no unjust discrimination in tolls, service, or facilities. Applications and complaints about traffic, tolls and tariffs may be filed with the CER at any time. In 2021–22, the Commission adjudicated on several tolls and tariff applications, including the Enbridge Application for Canadian Mainline Contract Service, noteworthy for being the first time a major existing Canadian oil pipeline company applied to convert a large portion of its capacity to long-term contracts in the absence of a proposed expansion project. It included a hearing process, with 39 intervenor participants, during which oral cross examination was completed entirely in a virtual environment.

Rocky cliff near waterIn December 2021, the Commission launched a five-year review of the abandonment cost estimates and set aside mechanisms. The review is focusing on the appropriateness of company abandonment cost estimates and set aside and collection mechanisms. Appendices G and H provide additional information related to abandonment funding and financial resource requirements for regulated companies.

The CER received 1858 post-approval compliance documents during the last fiscal year. Appendix F provides a detailed breakdown of the post-approval compliance documents submitted.

Companies are required to seek permission from the Commission before opening a pipeline or a section of pipeline for the transmission of hydrocarbons or any other commodity. The Commission issued 20 such Leave to Open Orders in the 2021–22 fiscal year to five different companies related to five different projects. Applications for this leave are made after approved construction is complete and the company can demonstrate that the facility can begin operations safely.

The Commission plays an important role in the CER’s safety and environment oversight. The Commission can issue Directions or Orders (sometimes called Safety Orders) pursuant to section 95 of the CER Act, to ensure the safety and security of persons and facilities and/or for the protection of property or the environment. In the 2021–22 fiscal year, the Commission did not issue any new Safety Orders. However, 4 Safety Orders issued in previous fiscal years are still active and monitored by the CER. Appendix E provides detailed information on the four Safety Orders that are currently in effect.

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