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Regulatory Burden Reduction – AUC Roundtable and Next Steps, AUC Bulletin 2019-18

Link to Bulletin Summarized

Bulletin – Regulatory Burden Reduction

On October 4, 2019, the AUC held a roundtable with approximately 50 stakeholders to discuss regulatory burden and how future regulatory approaches might reduce or eliminate regulatory requirements.

What the AUC Heard and Intends to Address to Reduce or Remove Regulatory Burden

The AUC noted that stakeholders raised a number of specific suggestions for changes to the AUC’s application and hearing processes. The recommended changes are identified as follows:

Adjudicative Hearings:

  • Limit information requests to circumstances where fact-finding is required by applying existing Rule 001: Rules of Practice.

  • More reliance on written proceedings.

  • More reliance on oral argument.

  • Scope constrained to early, clear and detailed issues development.

  • Fixed decision dates with related incentives for parties’ failure to comply with necessary steps to meet hearing date.

  • Increased use of incentives to drive behavior in adjudicative proceedings through imposition of cost consequences in the cost recovery process.

Role of Parties:

  • Clear demonstration of interest and how decisions impact the rights of constituencies, as a measure of standing.

  • Greater engagement by Commission panels in challenging and supervising questions and submissions of parties.

Pre-hearing Processes:

  • More use of technical conferences and less use of written interrogatories.

  • Potential for Commission members attending technical conferences and ruling on relevance of questions, responsiveness of answers and need for undertakings.

  • Greater use of negotiated settlements and guidance as to which issues should be settled and which should go to a hearing.

  • Participation of Commission members in settlement discussions.

Next Steps

While the review identified themes and areas for further work, the AUC indicated it knows there are improvements that it can start now to reduce regulatory burden. The AUC stated that it is introducing the following changes immediately, where appropriate.

The AUC will make greater use of technical or pre-hearing meetings with the applicant and interveners to:

  • define the scope and issues arising from the application;

  • clarify content in an application with a view to reducing information requests;

  • determine the relevance and adequacy of information requests and responses;

  • schedule process steps with fixed dates, and especially fixed hearing dates; and

  • deal with all interlocutory matters in an expedited fashion.

The AUC indicated it would attend these sessions and make a ruling on these matters shortly after the meeting.

The AUC stated that it would initially implement these measures in the following rates proceedings:

  • ATCO Electric Transmission 2020-2022 General Tariff application;

  • ENMAX Power Corporation 2019 Distribution Tariff, Phase II application; and

  • ATCO Electric 2019 Distribution Tariff, Phase II application.

The AUC will also implement its proposed new measures in the following upcoming needs identification documents and transmission facility applications:

  • Chapel Rock to Pincher Creek Transmission Development;

  • Alberta – British Columbia Intertie Restoration; and

  • Central East Transfer out.

The AUC indicated that it’s Facilities Division would coordinate a roundtable meeting with representatives from Alberta Environment and Parks and renewable developers to identify and address overlap between the two agencies and discuss options for making the application process more flexible to address rapid technological change.

The AUC indicated that it will continue to examine the areas identified for future work and looks forward to continuing its discussions with stakeholders.

The AUC stated that it is vitally important that everyone who participates in the regulatory sector accept responsibility to adapt to the changes being implemented. The AUC cautioned that not all would be easy to implement. For example, an AUC letter directing a party to appear in four days to argue the relevance or adequacy of information requests is very different from the current written process. However, the AUC noted that without this kind of dramatic process change, we risk making little if any progress on reducing regulatory burden.

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