Skip To Content

Alberta Utilities Commission provides needed clarity on electric facility applications through changes to Rule 007

Author(s): Martin Ignasiak, Jessica Kennedy, John Gormley

Mar 10, 2021

On March 5, 2021, the Alberta Utilities Commission (the AUC or the Commission) announced significant changes to Rule 007: Applications for Power Plants, Substations, Transmission Lines, Industrial System Designations and Hydro Developments (Rule 007). The Commission has now issued the revised Rule 007, effective September 1, 2021, following an extensive Commission-led consultation process focused on developing efficient regulatory requirements and addressing evolving technologies and emerging issues. In addition, changes to Rule 007 include a comprehensive reorganization, efforts to streamline information requirements, elimination of outdated requirements and the merging of Rule 020: Rules Respecting Gas Utility Pipelines into Rule 007.

What is Rule 007?

As its name suggests, Rule 007 specifies the detailed application requirements required for a wide range of facility applications under the Hydro and Electric Energy Act and (now) the Gas Utilities Act/Pipeline Act, including power plants (e.g., thermal, solar, wind, hydroelectric and geothermal plants), transmission lines, substations, battery storage facilities, grid interconnections, industrial system designations and gas utility pipelines. These application requirements guide the Commission’s assessment of new project proposals and, hence, changes to Rule 007 directly affect proponents of these projects.

Overview of changes to Rule 007

In an effort to make Rule 007 more accessible and easier to use, the Commission has introduced a web-based (wiki-style) version of Rule 007 and will continue to make available a PDF version. The Commission has also made available fillable PDF application forms for various types of electric facility and gas utility pipeline applications. An applicant can compile parts of its application by filling out the applicable application form(s) and uploading them to the AUC eFiling System with its complete application.

Generally, the revised Rule 007 provides additional clarity and specific requirements for facility applications based on the applicable technology. In particular, the revised Rule 007 appears to add needed clarity regarding wind power plant, solar power plant and battery storage applications. The revised Rule 007 also includes additional clarity and streamlining with respect to amendment, time extension and approval transfer applications.

Specific substantive additions reflected in the revised Rule 007 include the following:

  • application requirements specific to battery storage facility applications;
  • application requirements specific to power plant approval time extensions;
  • application requirements specific to approval transfer applications;
  • requirements related to glare assessments for solar power plant applications; and
  • requirements related to shadow flicker impact assessment for wind power plant applications.

Other changes include

  • simplified application requirements for interconnection applications; and
  • explicit references to Indigenous groups throughout the information requirements and in the participant involvement program guidelines, intended to clarify requirements for consultation with First Nations and Métis communities.

The revised Rule 007 also includes performance standards, regarding timelines for both record development and decision making, applicable to the Commission’s processing of facility applications. These new performance standards are reproduced below:

Table 3.1: Performance standards for facility applications

Category

1

2

3

4

5

Process

  • no notice
  • no objections
  • no information requests
  • no notice
  • no objections
  • one round of AUC information requests
  • notice
  • no objections/ no person with standing
  • one or more rounds of AUC information requests
  • notice
  • objections
  • no participant information requests
  • written/oral hearing
  • notice
  • objections
  • participant information requests
  • written/oral hearing

Record development timeline

 

5 business days*

 

35 days

 

90 days

 

120 days

 

205 days

Performance standard

90 per cent

80 per cent

Decision writing timeline

 

15 days

 

20 days

 

30 days

 

75 days

 

90 days

Performance standard

100 per cent

* This is the only performance standard based on business days; all other performance standards are based on calendar days.

Table 3.2: Record development steps

Record development steps by category

Process

Category

 

1

2

3

4

5

AUC application review

X

X

X

X

X

Notice of application

 

 

X

X

X

AUC information request round 1

 

X

X

X

X

AUC information request round 2

 

 

X

X

X

Objection/standing ruling

 

 

 

X

X

Completeness notification

X

X

X

X

X

Notice of hearing

 

 

 

X

X

Participant information requests

 

 

 

 

X

Intervener evidence

 

 

 

X

X

Rebuttal evidence

 

 

 

X

X

Oral or written hearing

 

 

 

X

X

Argument/reply argument

 

 

 

X

X

Further engagement

The Commission will hold a virtual workshop on the afternoon of April 22, 2021, to guide stakeholders through the changes to Rule 007 and answer any questions they may have about its application. Parties interested in attending the virtual workshop are asked to email Kellie Benoche at fac-correspondence@auc.ab.ca with their name and contact information by March 24, 2021.

Comments

Generally, we are pleased to see the Commission continuing to make meaningful changes to its regulatory processes, as reflected in the revised Rule 007, consistent with its broader commitments and initiatives aimed at increasing regulatory process efficiency (see our previous Osler Update). We welcome the express incorporation of application processing timelines and performance standards into the revised Rule 007, which were previously set in separate AUC bulletins. However, we note that the timelines and performance standards themselves remain unchanged since the prior version was published in 2019.

We expect the changes to Rule 007 to be a generally positive development for project proponents, with needed added clarity for wind, solar and battery storage proponents in particular, as well as additional clarity related to Indigenous consultation for all facility applicants.