Electricity Filing Manual – Chapter 1 – Introduction

Table of Contents

  1. 1.1 Scope and Purpose of the Manual
    1. 1.1.1 Transition from National Energy Board to Canada Energy Regulator
  2. 1.2 Canada Energy Regulator Expectations
  3. 1.3 Content Organization
  4. 1.4 Confidential Filing
    1. 1.4.1 Filing Requirements
      1. Guidance
        1. Sections 60 and 61 of the CER Act
        2. Other filings
  5. 1.5 Previously Filed Material
  6. 1.6 Pre-Application Meetings Guidance Notes
  7. 1.7 Filing with the Canada Energy Regulator
  8. 1.8 Updates

1.1 Scope and Purpose of the Manual

Electric utility companies regulated by the Canadian Energy Regulator Act (CER Act) are required to obtain approval from the Commission of the Canada Energy Regulator (Commission) to construct new facilities or modify or abandon existing facilities and export electricity. Facilities include a transmission line and associated equipment, such as at a substation.

The Filing Manual is designed to provide guidance as to the type of information the Commission would typically need to make a decision concerning the issuance of a permit or certificate for an IPL.

The Filing Manual is also designed to assist applicants in understanding why information is required and how it is assessed by the Commission, so that applicants can therefore understand the level of detail that is needed.

This manual is not applicable to electricity exports or to other areas of CER jurisdiction such as pipelines or oil and gas activities. Parties may wish to contact the CER for further advice or guidance on these other activities.

1.1.1 Transition from National Energy Board to Canada Energy Regulator

On August 28 2019 the CER Act came into force, replacing the National Energy Board Act. The CER Act introduces a modern governance structure with clear separation between key functions:

  • An independent Commission, headed by a Lead Commissioner, to adjudicate projects (i.e., hearings)
  • A Board of Directors, led by a Chair, to provide strategic oversight
  • A Chief Executive Officer, accountable for leading the organization and delivering results.

Every decision or order made by the National Energy Board is considered to have been made under the CER Act and may be enforced as such. Every certificate, license or permit issued by the National Energy Board is considered to have been issued under the CER Act. Those instruments remain in force for the remainder of the period during which they would have been in force had the CER Act not come into force.

Regulations made under the National Energy Board Act remain in force under the CER Act until they are repealed or others made in their stead, as per the Interpretation Act. Updates to regulations are being implemented through a phased approach, starting with the Transitional Regulations for the Purpose of the National Energy Board Cost Recovery Regulations. Our CER “Acts and Regulations” web page will be regularly updated with opportunities to provide feedback on regulatory development and notifications of regulatory changes.

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1.2 Canada Energy Regulator Expectations

This manual sets out the information requirements the CER expects in an application and also provides guidance on those requirements. The CER expects the applicant to include all necessary and sufficient information to explain and support the application.

When seeking approval, applicants must submit applications or information filings to the CER that enable the Commission to:

  • evaluate the overall public good that the facilities requested can create as well as its potential negative aspects;
  • weigh the various impacts; and
  • make an informed decision that balances various interests.

While it is ultimately the responsibility of the applicant to make its case before the Commission, this manual provides direction regarding the information the Commission would typically expect to see addressed in a filing. Complete filings should allow the Commission to carry out more consistent assessments with fewer information requests and, therefore, shorten timelines required to make a decision.

As will be seen from the detailed requirements, the Commission’s assessment of proposed projects includes, along with other considerations, a risk-oriented approach that considers the probability and consequence of potential issues. The level of detail for any particular issue in an application should therefore consider this.

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1.3 Content Organization

The filing requirements are generally presented in the following format:

  • a Goal statement that summarizes the subject matter of the information to be provided;
  • Filing Requirements that specify the information needed;
  • a Guidance section that provides direction regarding, for example, the level of detail, potential issues and information references; and
  • “FYI” (for your information) grey boxes that provide direction for when further information may be appropriate, where further guidance can be found, ‘off-ramps’ for when additional information may not be required, and various other tips, examples, and reminders.
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1.4 Confidential Filing

The CER is committed to transparency and accountability. As an administrative tribunal, the Commission holds hearings that are open to the public and makes its court record available for public viewing. However, some filings may need to be made confidentially for any of the reasons indicated in sections 60 or 61 of the CER Act. As confidentiality is an exception to the fundamental principle that proceedings are open to the public, the onus is on the applicant to show why this remedy should be granted to keep information in a public proceeding confidential.

Filings may also be required by the CER for matters beyond proceedings of the Commission. Such filings may still be made available to the public as part of the CER’s commitment to transparency. Where a filing is unrelated to a Commission proceeding, sections 60 and 61 of the CER Act may not apply. However, an informal request can also be made of the CER not to make the filing public. 

The CER will protect the confidentiality of Indigenous knowledge if provided in confidence pursuant to section 58 of the CER Act. Confidential Indigenous knowledge does not need to meet the requirements described here. In situations where such knowledge is being shared, the CER will discuss the process and requirements with the party who is sharing that information.

Please note that all filings, regardless of whether they are confidential or not, are nevertheless subject to the Access to Information Act and Privacy Act.

1.4.1 Filing Requirements

Applications for all requests to treat filings confidentially, whether in a proceeding or otherwise, must have sufficient detail and provide:

1. A cover letter containing:

  1. the request and reasons for the request;
  2. a summary of the nature of the information to be treated confidentially; and
  3. a detailed description of why the filing requires confidential treatment.

2. If possible, a redacted version of the filing that can be made public (with redactions to the information requested to be kept confidential).

3. One unredacted copy of the filing that the applicant requests to be kept confidential. The filing must be provided via hand delivery, ordinary mail, registered mail or courier to the Secretary of the Commission in a double sealed envelope under confidential cover.

Guidance

Sections 60 and 61 of the CER Act

Sections 60 and 61 of the CER Act allow for certain filings in a proceeding to be treated confidentially and protected from disclosure. These sections will generally apply in respect of a filing related to:

  • any regulatory proceeding (i.e., applications filed under the CER Act or any other public hearing process under the CER Act);
  • matters related to condition compliance where the condition is a “for approval” condition of the Commission; and
  • in the case of section 61, information that is contained in any order under the CER Act.

For number 1c. above, the detailed description must indicate under which section or subsection of the CER Act confidentiality is being requested. Given the importance of maintaining open, accessible and transparent proceedings, any request for confidentiality should be as narrow as possible.

The detailed description must also clearly describe how the requirements of that section or subsection are met based on the language in the CER Act:

  1. 60 The Commission or a designated officer may take any measures and make any order that the Commission or designated officer considers necessary to ensure the confidentiality of any information likely to be disclosed in any proceedings under this Act if the Commission or designated officer is satisfied that
    1. (a) disclosure of the information could reasonably be expected to result in a material loss or gain to a person directly affected by the proceedings, or could reasonably be expected to prejudice the person’s competitive position;
    2. (b) the information is financial, commercial, scientific or technical information that is confidential information provided to the Regulator and
      1. (i) the information has been consistently treated as confidential information by a person directly affected by the proceedings, and
      2. (ii) the Commission or designated officer considers that the person’s interest in confidentiality outweighs the public interest in disclosure of the proceedings; or
    3. (c) there is a real and substantial risk that disclosure of the information will compromise the safety and well-being of persons or cause harm to property or the environment.
  2. 61 The Commission or a designated officer may take any measures and make any order that the Commission or designated officer considers necessary to ensure the confidentiality of information that is contained in any order under this Act or that is likely to be disclosed in any proceedings under this Act if the Commission or designated officer is satisfied that
    1. (a) there is a real and substantial risk that disclosure of the information will pose a risk to the security of pipelines, abandoned pipelines, power lines, offshore renewable energy projects, including buildings, structures or systems – including computer or communication systems, or methods employed to protect them – and the need to prevent disclosure of the information outweighs the public interest in disclosure of orders and proceedings; or
    2. (b) there is a real and substantial risk that disclosure of the information will compromise the safety and well-being of persons or cause harm to property or the environment.

When considering the confidentiality request, the Commission or Designated Officer may establish a comment process to solicit feedback on the request and may post a notice of the request on the CER website to permit comments from the public.

If the Commission or Designated Officer is satisfied that the filing meets the requirements set out in sections 60 or 61, it may take measures that it considers necessary to ensure the confidentiality of the filing. One such measure is that only select CER staff, Commissioners or Designated Officers responsible for considering the filing would have access to the information, and the information would not be available to the public. In some proceedings it may be necessary for fairness reasons for another party or parties to have access to the confidential filing, subject to appropriate undertakings or other protective measures.

If a request for confidentiality is granted the Commission or Designated Officer will provide reasons and issue directions or an order. The confidential information will be protected by the CER. 

If the Commission or Designated Officer is not satisfied that the applicant has demonstrated that the filing meets the requirements of sections 60 or 61, the document will be returned to the applicant and the applicant may refile the information on the public record, in order to have complete information for the application.

Other filings

Where a filing is unrelated to a Commission proceeding, sections 60 and 61 of the CER Act may not apply. However, an informal request can also be made of the CER not to make the filing public. Such informal requests can be made for filings that are unrelated to:

  • regulatory proceedings;
  • matters relating to condition compliance where the condition is a “for approval” condition of the Commission; and
  • information contained in any order under the CER Act.

In determining whether a document should not be made public, the CER will consider the reasons provided for requesting confidentiality, such as: similar criteria as sections 60 and 61 applications, any other applicable legislation, as well as whether a filing is expected to attract significant third-party interest. As such, requesters are asked to consider the requirements in sections 60 and 61 when providing detailed information explaining why a filing should not be made public.

When considering the request, the CER may seek feedback and may post a notice of the request on its website to permit comments from the public, if appropriate.

If the CER is satisfied that the filing should not be made public, it may take measures that it considers necessary to ensure that this is accomplished, subject to specific disclosures as may be appropriate to fulfill the CER’s mandate in conjunction with undertakings or other protective measures as necessary.

If the CER is not satisfied that the requester has demonstrated that the filing should be withheld from the public, the document will be returned to the requester and the requester may refile the information in a manner that would permit disclosure to the public.

FYI – Single Line Diagrams (see also 4.2.1 Engineering Design Details)

If confidential treatment is requested for the single-line diagram, the Applicant must also provide a simplified diagram which excludes information the Applicant deems sensitive, but includes the IPL and major components which are the subject of the application (i.e., transformer, converter metering equipment, isolation switches, and breaker) in the form of block diagrams, and shows how the IPL interconnects to the existing bulk power system (i.e., termination points, voltage levels and how it connects to existing transmission lines and substations).

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1.5 Previously Filed Material

If an applicant wishes to refer to documents previously filed with the CER and those documents are still current (e.g., company manuals, programs, standards or procedures), rather than resubmitting the documents, the applicant may:

  1. indicate when, under what circumstances and under what CER file number (if known) the information was filed;
  2. identify the document and its version; and
  3. identify the section(s) of the document being referenced.
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1.6 Pre-Application Meetings Guidance Notes

Applicants may request a pre-application meeting to clarify filing requirements with CER staff. The Pre-Application Meetings Guidance Notes describe the process for requesting a meeting. These can be found on the CER website.

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1.7 Filing with the Canada Energy Regulator

Parties with the ability to file electronically are expected to file documents through the CER’s electronic document repository. Any person who has the ability to access documents through the repository must accept service of a notification that the document is in the repository rather than requiring that a hard copy of the document be served.

For more information about filing electronically, please refer to the Filer’s Guide to Electronic Submission and the Memorandum of Guidance on Electronic Filing. Both of these documents are available on the CER’s internet site.

Please note that e-mails are not considered electronic filing and will not be accepted in a proceeding.

The CER’s electronic document repository will contain the full text of only those documents filed electronically (following the procedures mentioned above). When documents are filed by hard copy or facsimile, the CER may create an electronic placeholder. This placeholder indicates that a document has been filed in hard copy (and is available in the CER’s library) but it will not be possible to view or search these documents on the electronic document repository.

If you are filing an application as hard copies, you must file 15 copies. Please use pressboard report covers rather than plastic binders. Pressboard covers are more compact and durable, and a large amount of plastic waste will be avoided.

If you file electronically, one hard copy must be subsequently filed. The hard copy must have attached to it a signed copy of the Electronic Filing Receipt that the system will return to the filer upon receipt of the electronic document. Please file your completed application with the CER and address it to:

Secretary of the Commission
Canada Energy Regulator
210-517 10 Ave SW
Calgary AB  T2R 0A8
Telephone: 403-292-4800 or 1-800-899-1265
Facsimile: 403-292-5503 or 1-877-288-8803

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1.8 Updates

It is the CER’s intent to update this document as necessary. The CER would appreciate any comments users may have regarding the content, usability or other matters associated with this document that could assist with future updates and revisions.

All comments may be directed to the CER by:

E-mail: FilingManual@cer-rec.gc.ca
Facsimile: Secretary at 403-292-5503 or 1-877-288-8803
Telephone: 1-800-899-1265

Mail:

Secretary of the Commission
Canada Energy Regulator
210-517 10 Ave SW
Calgary AB  T2R 0A8

The CER will communicate its future revision process and schedule and any interim updates on the website.

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