2022–23 Annual Report of the Commission of the Canada Energy Regulator

2022–23 Annual Report of the Commission of the Canada Energy Regulator [PDF 1466 KB]

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ISSN 2563-3171

Aerial panoramic seascape view during a vibrant winter morning. Taken near Tofino and Ucluelet, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada.

Table of Contents

Note: The 2022–23 Annual Report of the Commission of the Canada Energy Regulator is one of three Annual Report documents that summarize the Canada Energy Regulator’s achievements of the past year. To learn more about the work of the Canada Energy Regulator as a whole, please see the 2022–23 Annual Report of the Canada Energy Regulator, or the Departmental Results Report 2022–23 (to be published in fall 2023).

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Message from the Lead Commissioner

Mark Watton, Lead CommissionerOn behalf of the Commission of the Canada Energy Regulator, I am pleased to submit to the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Natural Resources, and to Canadians, the 2022–23 Annual Report of the Commission of the Canada Energy Regulator (CER).

The Commission and its mandate are defined in the Canadian Energy Regulator Act (CER Act). The Commission's independence in the exercise of its adjudicative functions is a feature of the CER’s governance structure, now in its fourth year. This report is a full year account of the Commission’s 2022–23 activities in fulfilling its mandate pursuant to governing legislation, including the CER Act, the Canada Oil and Gas Operations Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act.

Mid way through this reporting year, on 28 August 2022, I was appointed Lead Commissioner. I would like to acknowledge the contributions of my predecessor Damien Côté, who finished his term with the Commission after a combined six years of service, first with the National Energy Board and then with the CER. Damien’s role in steering the Commission forward from the time of its inception in 2019 cannot be overstated. On behalf of my colleagues, I thank Lead Commissioner Côté for his leadership, his commitment, and his service to the CER and to Canada.

The Commission’s productivity and breadth of work is shown through the issuance of its 738 decisions released this past year, with respect to a range of energy project applications, economic and lifecycle regulation. While our work for the year is described in greater detail in the report which follows, as Lead Commissioner I would highlight the following milestones and achievements.

On 25 May 2022, the Commission released its recommendation report for the NOVA Gas Transmission Ltd. West Path Delivery 2023 Project, the first hearing process conducted entirely under the CER Act for a certificate of public convenience and necessity, which the Governor in Council subsequently approved on 20 November 2022. The second such major facilities application, the NorthRiver Midstream NEBC Connector Project, is currently before the Commission for consideration.

As COVID-19 restrictions began to be lifted, the Commission was able to adjust its adjudicative processes to return to elements of in-person work, while maintaining the accessibility that virtual and hybrid processes has afforded Commissioners, CER staff and hearing participants during the pandemic. For the NEBC Connector Project, we held our first in-person activities with Oral Indigenous Knowledge sessions in Fort St. John, British Columbia, on 24-27 January 2023 and convened a subsequent in-person technical workshop related to the same hearing in Grande Prairie in February. Earlier in the year, the return to office allowed Commissioners to convene, and CER staff to participate in, several toll and tariff proceedings from our hearing room in Calgary. It was good to be back, and we look forward to the return of hearing parties and the public to our hearing room in the coming year.

All applications for pipelines, powerlines, tolls, and tariffs and other matters before the Commission are adjudicated using transparent and accessible processes. The Commission intends to rely on a range of hearing formats and technology going forward, as the circumstances permit, taking into account the requirements of natural justice, procedural fairness, the CER’s strategic priority of Reconciliation with Canada’s Indigenous Peoples, and the safety, efficiency and accessibility of our hearings.

In addition to facilities applications and toll and tariff matters, the Commission is tasked with ongoing regulatory oversight of approved facilities. Condition compliance related to pipelines currently under construction, including the Trans Mountain Expansion Project, remains a significant part of our workload. We are also regularly reviewing the assessment of financial resource requirements of pipeline companies as well as the requirements for setting aside funds in relation to the future abandonment of their facilities. Canadians will hear more from the Commission in the coming months with respect to the work undertaken this year to update Abandonment Cost Estimates for CER-regulated pipelines.

Through the Commission’s hearing processes, we hear from local communities, Indigenous Peoples, and the companies we regulate, all of whom consistently offer a range of ideas, concerns, improvements, and considerations to help us make more informed decisions on matters important to Canadians.

Over the past year the Commission has released numerous updates to the CER Filing Manual, including guidance to support the Government of Canada’s 2050 net-zero emission targets. The Filing Manual helps applicants navigate evolving regulatory requirements and is a key tool to communicate when regulatory expectations, such as net-zero targets, are put into action. The Filing Manual is continually updated with input from industry, Indigenous advisory groups, Environment and Climate Change Canada and other interested parties.

During the 2022–23 reporting year, the Commission contributed to the CER’s Strategic Priorities by meeting all service standard timelines (the expected length of time to reach a decision once an application is deemed complete) and legislated timelines (the maximum time allocated to reach a decision under the CER Act). This important achievement supports the Strategic Priority to enhance Canada’s global competitiveness through transparency, predictability, and efficiency throughout the regulatory lifecycle, and is in keeping with the priorities set out by the Minister or Natural Resources Canada’s letter addressed to the CER’s Board Chairperson on 1 February 2023.Footnote 1

These are but a sample of the work and the decisions completed by the Commission this past year. While applications for new major pipelines may not command Canadians’ attention as they did in recent years, we remain quite busy as a regulatory body comprised of seven (or at times six) decision-makers. Maintaining the trust and confidence of Canadians as we deliver on the CER’s core function of regulatory decision-making remains a priority for the Commission. With a full complement of Commissioners planned for the upcoming year, the Commission will continue to deliver on service standards and legislated timelines and will remain focused on making process improvements to promote regulatory efficiencies.

I am grateful for my colleagues who continue to undertake new challenges in a spirit of openness and fairness. I would also like to acknowledge and thank CER staff and leadership for their tremendous support over the past year. Their wise counsel and invaluable expertise provide a solid foundation on which the Commission can carry out its adjudicative duties. In this my first year as Lead Commissioner, I am proud of what we have accomplished together.

Original signed by

Mark Watton,
Lead Commissioner
Canada Energy Regulator

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