Casual Legal: AUC inquiry into electricity generation in Alberta

By Breanne Schwanak
Reynolds Mirth Richards Farmer LLP
Alberta Municipalities Casual Legal Service Provider

The Government of Alberta issued an Order in Council directing the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) to inquire into the “ongoing economic, orderly and efficient development of electricity generation in Alberta” on August 2, 2023.

Specifically, the AUC was directed to inquire into, and report to the Minister of Affordability and Utilities, on the following five issues:

  • Considerations on the development of power plants on specific types or classes of agricultural or environmental land
  • Considerations of the impact of power plant development on Alberta’s pristine viewscapes
  • Considerations of implementing mandatory reclamation security requirements for power plants
  • Considerations for the development of power plants on lands held by the Crown in Right of Alberta
  • Considerations of the impact the increasing growth of renewables has to both generation supply mix and electricity system reliability.

This was accompanied by the enactment of the controversial Generation Approvals Pause Regulation, which required the AUC to pause approvals of new power plants and hydro developments that produce renewable electricity over one megawatt, until February 29, 2024.

Further details on the inquiry, including the scope and a preliminary process schedule, were shared in Bulletin 2023-06 on September 11, 2023. In addition to canvassing the five issues set out in the Order in Council, the AUC specifically noted the inquiry would include “reviewing the role of municipal governments in land selection for project development and review.”

The inquiry has been separated into two modules. Module A will address the land impact issues identified in the Order in Council (i.e., the first four issues listed above), which includes the role of municipal governments. Module B will consider the supply mix and electricity system reliability issue (i.e., the fifth issue listed above). Parties interested in participating in Module A will be invited to participate by completing an online survey, providing submissions in writing, and providing submissions orally at an in-person session.

The AUC has indicated it will issue a notice through eFiling, its online electronic filing system, in due course, which will include additional information on the process and timelines. Municipalities interested in participating in this process, and having their voices heard, should keep a close eye on the commission’s eFiling system for next steps.

To access Alberta Municipalities Casual Legal Helpline, Alberta Municipalities members can call toll-free to 1-800-661-7673 or send an casuallegal [at] (email) to reach the municipal legal experts at Reynolds Mirth Richards and Farmer LLP. For more information on the Casual Legal Service, please call 310-MUNI (6864) or send an riskcontrol [at] (email) to speak to Alberta Municipalities Risk Management staff. Any Regular or Associate member of Alberta Municipalities can access the Casual Legal Service.

DISCLAIMER: This article is meant to provide information only and is not intended to provide legal advice. You should seek the advice of legal counsel to address your specific set of circumstances. Although every effort has been made to provide current and accurate information, changes to the law may cause the information in this article to be outdated.