Gas Pipeline – Upgrades and Expansion
This decision provides reasons of the National Energy Board (“NEB”) under the letterhead of its successor, the CER.
In this decision the NEB considered applications filed by Westcoast Energy Inc. (“Westcoast”) to construct and operate the following upgrades and an expansion to its pipeline system:
the CS-4A Compressor Station Upgrade Project;
the CS-5 Compressor Station Upgrade Project;
the CS-3 Compressor Station Upgrade Project; and
the T-South Expansion and Reliability Project,
(collectively, the “Projects”).
In considering any application under Part III of the NEB Act, the NEB must consider whether the applied-for facilities are in the overall Canadian public interest. In doing so, the NEB must exercise its discretion in balancing the interests of a diverse public and requires that the NEB balance the benefits and the burdens of a project, in considering all relevant evidence properly before the Board.
The Projects would take place at eight existing compressor stations along the Westcoast Transmission-South Pipeline System (“T-South pipeline”) in British Columbia. The Projects would include the installation of five new compressor units and associated equipment at three existing compressor stations, and the completion of equipment upgrades to three other existing compressor stations on the T-South pipeline.
The Projects would be located entirely within Westcoast-owned fee simple lands, with the exception of CS-3. The CS-3 Project would require an additional 0.21 hectares of new lands on adjacent, privately-owned industrial land.
Need for the Project and Economic Feasibility
The NEB found that Westcoast had demonstrated a need for the improved reliability provided by the Projects. The NEB also found that there was adequate supply, sufficient market demand, and robust contracts underpinning the Projects. Therefore, the NEB was of the view that the applied-for facilities were likely to be used and useful at a reasonable level over their economic life and were economically feasible.
Toll Principles and Methodology
The Board found the proposed tolling methodology, using rolled-in cost of service, to be appropriate for the circumstances of the Projects and that applying the proposed methodology would result in just and reasonable tolls. The rolled-in tolling methodology was consistent with Westcoast’s existing practice for system expansions.
Facilities and Emergency Response Matters
The NEB found that the general design of the Projects facilities was appropriate for the intended use, and that the facilities would be constructed in accordance with accepted standards for design, construction and operation. The NEB also found that the general procedures and safeguards in place for the Projects were appropriate for its intended use. The NEB was satisfied that the Projects would be operated and maintained in a safe and appropriate manner.
The NEB found that Westcoast’s anticipated requirements for land rights and the process for the acquisition of those land rights was acceptable and therefore, the NEB was satisfied that the acquisition would meet the requirements of the NEB Act.
The NEB found that Westcoast’s public consultation approach was adequate. Westcoast adequately and appropriately identified and notified stakeholders and potentially affected landowners. The NEB also noted that Westcoast’s design and implementation of consultation activities for the Projects were appropriate given the scope and scale of the Projects.
The NEB noted that Westcoast provided Indigenous communities who expressed an interest in the Projects with reasonable opportunities to participate in project planning, share traditional knowledge, and identify site-specific and general concerns about the Projects. Further, the NEB noted that Westcoast designed and implemented consultation activities that were appropriate for the size, scope and scale of the applied-for Projects.
The NEB found that consultation was meaningful, responsive and significant. Therefore there was adequate consultation and accommodation for the purpose of the NEB’s decision on these Projects. The NEB also noted that, with the NEB’s conditions, its regulatory requirements, along with company’s mitigation and commitments, potential impacts of the Projects on the rights and interests of affected Indigenous peoples had been effectively addressed.
Environment and Socio-Economic Matters
The NEB found that, with the implementation of Westcoast’s environmental protection procedures and mitigation and the NEB’s imposed conditions, the Projects would not cause significant, adverse environmental or socio-economic effects.
The NEB approved the Projects subject to 20 conditions contained in four separate orders declaring each project to be in the public interest. The NEB indicated it would monitor and enforce compliance with the conditions throughout the lifecycle of the Projects.