Regulation of Pipelines and Power Lines


The CER regulates over 73,000 km of pipeline. If a pipeline system crosses provincial or international boundaries, it is regulated by the CER. Pipelines which lie completely within the borders of a single province are regulated by that province's regulatory body.

The CER assesses applications for pipeline projects to determine whether the project is in the Canadian public interest. Applications for smaller pipelines (generally those less than 40 km in length) are assessed within 10 months. Applications for longer pipelines are assessed by the CER within 15 months, after which federal Cabinet decides, based on the CER recommendation, whether a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity should be issued. If the project is designated under the Impact Assessment Act, such as pipeline projects with more than 75 km of new right of way, it will go through an integrated review process, led by the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada, with the support of the CER. Federal Cabinet makes the final decision on whether or not these projects should be approved.

In determining whether a pipeline project should proceed, the Commission assesses, among other things, its economic, technical and financial feasibility, and the environmental and socio-economic impact of the project, as well as any impacts on Indigenous peoples.

To ensure that engineering, safety and environmental requirements are met, the Commission audits and inspects the construction and operation of pipelines. Since February 1987, Commission inspectors have also been responsible for enforcing Part II of the Canada Labour Code, applying to the occupational safety and health of pipeline workers in the field.

The CER shares responsibility with the Transportation Safety Board for incident investigation. The CER investigates pipeline incidents to determine whether its regulations have been followed and if those regulations may need to be changed. The Transportation Safety Board investigates the cause and contributing factors. The CER also monitors excavation activity by third parties near pipelines to ensure compliance with existing regulations.

Power Lines

Most electric power lines and facilities fall within provincial jurisdiction. The Commission may authorize the construction and operation of international power lines and interprovincial lines designated under section 261 of the Canadian Energy Regulator Act.

When reviewing an application for a power line project, the Commission considers, among other things, the technical feasibility of the project, its effect on adjacent provinces and its environmental impact.

Almost all provinces bordering the U.S. have interconnections with neighbouring American utilities.

Date modified: