Electricity Filing Manual – Chapter 5 – Engagement

Table of Contents

The CER expects an applicant to have a company-wide Engagement Program that establishes a systematic, comprehensive and proactive approach for the development and implementation of project-specific engagement activities. The following information is required within the application:

  • an overview of the company-wide Engagement Program;
  • an overview of the project-specific engagement activities; and
  • a description of the outcomes of the project-specific engagement activities; or
  • the circumstances and justification for not undertaking project-specific engagement activities.

Each of these information requirements is discussed in further detail in the following sections.

The CER also expects companies to continue effective engagement activities with the public and Indigenous communities during the construction and operation phases of a project. The CER’s requirements for engagement related to operations and maintenance activities on pipelines can be found on the CER’s website in the “Operations and Maintenance Activities on Pipelines Regulated Under the National Energy Board Act: Requirements and Guidance Notes (January 2013)”.

5.1 Company-wide Engagement Program

Goal

The application outlines the corporate policy or vision with respect to engagement and the principles and goals that guide the applicant’s Engagement Program.

Filing Requirements

Provide an overview of the company’s engagement approach, which should include:

  • the corporate policy or vision with respect to engagement.
  • the principles and goals established for the applicant’s Engagement Program; and
  • a copy of the Indigenous engagement policy, along with any more specific related documented policies and principles, such as, for collecting traditional knowledge or traditional use information.

Guidance

The CER expects an applicant to have an Engagement Program to anticipate, prevent, mitigate and manage conditions which have the potential to affect persons and communities. An Engagement Program should be appropriately integrated into a company’s overall management system to provide protection for the public, employees, property and the environment throughout the lifecycle (design, construction, operation, maintenance, abandonment) of a pipeline system. An Engagement Program should be based on the elements of a standard management system (for example, the management system elements described in the Canadian Energy Regulator Onshore Pipeline Regulations). Additional guidance is provided in the NEB’s Draft Expectations – Public Involvement Program [Filing A22289].

The CER also expects applicants to consider the distinct language needs of the potentially affected persons and/or communities and include a description of this consideration in their application. Further to s. 41 of the Official Languages Act, the CER is also committed to fostering the full recognition and use of both English and French in Canadian society. The CER recognizes the importance of considering official languages when developing and implementing an engagement program, to result in effective communication with potentially affected persons in the official language of their choice.

5.2 Design of Project-specific Engagement Activities

Goal

The application indicates why the design of project-specific engagement activities is appropriate for the nature of the project in alignment with the company’s Engagement Program.

Filing Requirements

Provide an overview of the project-specific engagement activities and the factors that influenced the design, which should include:

  • a list of potentially affected persons or communities that were engaged for the project, including:
    • landowners, local residents, and land or waterway users;
    • government authorities; and
    • Indigenous communities;
  • a sample of the information package that the applicant has provided to all potentially affected persons and communities as outlined in the CER Early Engagement Guide;
  • methods, locations, and timing of engagement activities, including where community cultural protocols were identified and followed;
  • manner in which relevant languages were considered, including in particular how project information will be provided and communicated to potentially affected persons or communities in the official language of their choice to ensure effective and meaningful participation in the CER process;
  • procedure for responding to issues and concerns; and
  • plans for future engagement and follow-up throughout the operations phase of a project, which may include activities such as public awareness programs, continuing education and engagement with persons regarding proposed operations that may potentially affect them.

Guidance

The CER expects that applicants will consider engagement for all projects. Depending on the project scope, that could mean carrying out extensive engagement activities or a simple engagement activity such as notifying a single landowner. Applicants must justify the extent of engagement carried out for each application. For additional details, applicants should refer to “CER Expectations for Companies during the Early Engagement Phase”.

Local and Indigenous Knowledge

The application should, where relevant, available and applicable to the effects of the Project, include local and Indigenous knowledge. This information and knowledge should be integrated, where appropriate, into the design of the project. Where local and Indigenous knowledge is obtained, provide an opportunity for the individual who provided the information to confirm the interpretation of the information and how it was used in the project design.

Applicants should identify and incorporate within their effects assessment, preferably beginning at the assessment design phase, those valued components that are most relevant for an assessment of the project’s potential effects on the exercise of Indigenous rights (refer to Chapter 6 for additional details). Applicants should also engage with Indigenous communities to ascertain whether any Indigenous knowledge is being provided in confidence, and if so, ensure that confidential Indigenous knowledge can be appropriately protected from unauthorized disclosure. Applicants should strive to reach agreements or utilize existing community protocols with respect to Indigenous knowledge.

5.3 Outcomes of Project-specific Engagement Activities

Goal

The application describes the results of the engagement activities conducted to-date for the project, in sufficient detail to demonstrate:

  • that all persons and communities potentially affected by the project are aware of: the project, the project application to the CER, and how they can contact the CER with outstanding application-related concerns;
  • that those potentially affected by the project have been adequately engaged, and
  • that any concerns raised have been considered, and addressed as appropriate.

Filing Requirements

Describe the outcomes of the engagement activities conducted for the project, including:

  • a summary of the comments and concerns expressed by potentially affected persons or communities;
  • a summary of the response made regarding each of the concerns or comments, including:
    • the measures taken, or that will be taken to address those concerns or an explanation of why no further action is required to address the concerns or comments; and
    • the methods and dates that the response was made to the person(s) who raised the concern(s);
  • how outstanding concerns will be addressed;
  • how input from persons or communities has influenced the design, construction or operation of the project;
  • details regarding discussions with Indigenous communities, which includes each of the items listed above and:
    • the identity of all Indigenous communities contacted, how they were identified, when and how they were contacted and who was contacted;
    • any relevant, non-confidential written documentation received regarding engagement;
    • any concerns about the project raised by Indigenous communities that have been discussed with any government department or agency, including when contact was made and with whom; and
    • where there is any known involvement of the Crown in consultations with the Indigenous communities with respect to the project, describe the Crown involvement; and
  • the details and results of the engagement activities undertaken with all persons who may be affected by any changes to the project (e.g., persons that would be uniquely impacted following changes to the project as a result of engagement activities).

Confirm that potentially affected persons or communities will receive adequate notice that:

  • the application has been filed with the CER;
  • the process by which potentially affected persons and communities can contact the CER at any point before the CER makes its decision; and
  • the methods and timing of notification.

Guidance

The Applicant should maintain records and be prepared to further demonstrate the adequacy of engagement activities that have been conducted with all potentially affected persons and communities.

For engagement activities that could involve a large number of people, it might not be practical to list all individuals that were engaged. It may be more practical to describe the main groups and why they are identified. For example, where a group has a common concern or association, describe:

  • the group;
  • their location;
  • their common concern; and
  • the authority of any representatives of the group.

5.4 Justification for Not Undertaking Engagement Activities

Goal

The application provides justification as to why it was not necessary to carry out engagement activities with respect to the proposed project.

Filing Requirements

Explain why engagement activities were considered unnecessary, including:

  • the scenario or scenarios that are applicable to the application (i.e., equivalent engagement activities, no or negligible environmental or socio-economic effects, facilities within company owned or leased lands); and
  • evidence that these scenarios meet the requirements of this section of the manual.

Guidance

Engagement activities might not be necessary if the applicant can demonstrate that one or more of the following scenarios applies.

Equivalent Engagement Activities

Engagement has already been undertaken as required by another agency and the applicant can demonstrate it is relevant to the current project and is equivalent to the CER’s guidance and requirements.

For example, where a road widening requires that an existing CER-regulated pipeline be relocated, the responsible transportation authorities might conduct engagement activities for the road widening that includes engagement regarding the relocation of the pipeline. The pipeline application would then include a description of these engagement activities and how it meets the requirements of this manual.

No or Negligible Environmental or Socio-economic Effects

Applicants will be conducting environmental and socio-economic assessments of the project in accordance with the requirements of the CER Act and this manual (see Guide A within Chapter 4).

Through this assessment process, applicants will determine the potential adverse effects of the project. If the project’s potential environmental and socio-economic effects are negligible, engagement activities might be unnecessary. A project with negligible effects might exist where many or all of the following conditions are met:

  • the proposed project is of a small scale and is localized;
  • all construction is to occur on previously disturbed land;
  • there is no potential for an impact on navigation;
  • the land acquisition process is complete and landowner concerns have been addressed, or the project work is confined to company owned or leased land;
  • there are no residents near the proposed project;
  • no other land uses or waterway uses or interests would be affected;
  • there is no potential for traditional use activities to be affected by the project;
  • there is no potential for cumulative environmental effects;
  • there would be negligible environmental effects associated with construction and operation of the project;
  • there is no increase in the storage or disposal of toxic substances;
  • there is no increase in noise emissions;
  • there is no increased emissions in air contaminants; and
  • there is no potential for local nuisance, including potential for increased dust or traffic.

Because the identification of potential impacts may depend on engagement with those people potentially affected and because an impact assessment may not yet be completed, applicants should generally be conservative when contemplating the possibility that engagement may not be necessary. When and where recent previous project assessments or engagements are relied on, relevant details of these should be cited in the submission to the CER.

Facilities within Company Owned or Leased Lands

If the application is for a facility within company owned or leased land, engagement activities might be unnecessary. This may be the case where the application is a facilities application that relates to work contained within the confines of land the applicant owns or leases (as distinct from land upon which the applicant holds an easement only), except where those facilities or activities:

  • relate to an increase in the storage or disposal of toxic substances;
  • could result in impacts to traditional land and resource use;
  • could result in increased noise emissions;
  • could result in increased emissions of air contaminants; or
  • could result in local nuisance, including the potential for increased dust or traffic.

5.5 Notification of Physically Affected Third Parties

Notification of physically affected third parties is normally required when the outcome of the application might produce physical impacts to their systems or facilities, including:

  • reliability or safety of other provinces’ power systems or the regional bulk power system;
  • reliability or safety of electrical service to other local Canadian system users;
  • interference with the operation of others’ systems or facilities;
  • unintended/unwanted voltages or currents; and
  • audible noise or TV/Radio/Wireless communications interference.

The Commission should be assured that all such third parties who could be affected by the decision are aware of the application and have had the opportunity to comment should they wish to do so.

Goal

The application provides sufficient information to demonstrate that all third parties whose systems or facilities could potentially be physically affected by the outcome of the application, have been provided with an opportunity to comment on the project and that any such comments have been considered.

Filing Requirements

  1. The application should confirm that all third parties whose systems or facilities could potentially be physically affected by the outcome of the application have been notified and should include:
    • the method used to notify those parties; and
    • when the parties were notified.
  2. The application should provide details regarding the concerns of third parties. This might include:
    • confirmation that no concerns were raised;
    • confirmation that concerns raised have been resolved; or
    • a list of the third parties who have outstanding concerns and a discussion of their unresolved concerns.
  3. The application should list the self-identified interested third parties and confirm they have been notified.
  4. The application should provide an explanation in the event that notification of such third parties was considered unnecessary.

Guidance

Identifying Appropriate Physically Affected Third Parties

Third parties who should be included are those whose systems or facilities could potentially be physically affected by the outcome of an application. The following are examples of when you should consider certain third parties to be affected by an application:

  • Consider the appropriate NERC Regional Reliability Corporation as affected when the IPL will interconnect networked transmission-level system elements and (i) be energized at 100 kV or greater or (ii) would be considered a “critical facility” pursuant to NERC’s policies and guidelines;
  • Consider any pipelines, other power lines, railway or other utility facilities as potentially affected if they cross over or under the IPL, or parallel it in any appreciable manner for any appreciable distance;
  • Consider any TV/radio/wireless communications facilities, including individuals’ antennae, as potentially affected when they are within reasonable proximity – for conditions as well as IPL design voltage and current – of the proposed line; and
  • Consider any fencing, buildings or other facilities in close enough proximity to the IPL that may experience stray voltage or current induced from the IPL.

Third parties involved in physical construction activities (e.g., contractors, material vendors, consultants) or that supply food and accommodation would not normally be considered to be affected third parties.

Notification

You should inform the physically affected third parties that an application has been, or will be, submitted to the CER and provide a brief description. Notification should normally be done no later than the filing date of the application with the CER. A copy of the application may be provided with the notification upon request or may constitute notification.

When determining the level of detail in the notification, you should consider the:

  • scope of the project;
  • potential impact on the third parties;
  • nature of any concerns raised by the third parties; and
  • resolution of concerns raised.

In general, the greater the scope of the project and the potential impact on these third parties the more information should be required. Further, more detailed information should normally be required when concerns have been raised by these third parties and remain unresolved at the time of filing.

Concerns

Where concerns have been raised and resolved, the application should include a discussion of the resolution when it would assist the Commission in making a decision. When providing a list of unresolved concerns, the application should provide any other information that would assist the Commission to understand the issues, including a discussion of any attempts to reach agreement, such as a summary of the engagement process that was used prior to filing the application.

Self-identified, Interested Third Parties

Self-identified, interested third parties refers to third parties who have indicated to the applicant that they have an interest in the application or one or more types of applications filed with the CER.

Whether any third parties could be affected by the application or not, the CER expects that the applicant will notify all self-identified interested third parties.

When Notification is Not Required

Notification might not be required if the outcome of the application is not expected to result in any significant physical impacts on third parties’ systems or facilities. For example:

  • The proposed IPL will be energized at a voltage insufficient to produce TV/radio/wireless communications interference;
  • The proposed IPL will be operated at a voltage and at power levels insufficient to produce stray voltages or currents on existing surrounding facilities or produce interference with systems associated with these facilities;
  • The proposed IPL will be exempt from reliability standards set by NERC for bulk power system elements.

The requirements for engagement described in Chapter 5 continue to apply even if it is decided there are no additional third parties to notify of an application.

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