Regulating in the Eye of the Storm - March 4/5, 2015

Remarks by Peter Watson, Chair and CEO, National Energy Board
University of Ottawa - Positive Energy Conference
March 4/5, 2015

  • The NEB finds itself in new territory, with public demands for dealing with many issues in the energy debate around fossil fuels - climate science, GHG management, pace of oil and gas development, etc.
  • There are also extraordinary demands for participation in our processes as a result:
    • Kinder Morgan's TMX expansion application has 400 active participants - the largest in our history and an order of magnitude greater than what has been typical in the past
    • For TransCanada's Energy East application, the demand for participation may be another order of magnitude higher: we have, at last count, 1801 applications to participate.
    • Our traditional processes are struggling to be able to meet these expectations and we are trying to be creative as a result
  • There are also stakeholders with policy agendas, actively seeking to undermine and discredit us and our regulatory process, in an effort to advance their agenda.
  • Yet... at the same time, the balancing of the relative benefits and burdens associated with siting of energy infrastructure is a legitimate debate in communities across the country.
  • My view is that:
    • A regulatory process that weighs the relevant evidence and comes to a conclusion is essential; perhaps more than ever before given the increasingly polarized views on energy issues;
    • Lfe cycle regulatory oversight that ensures the "public interest" is protected throughout the life of a project is also critical going forward.
  • So... how should the regulator proceed given all of this?
    • Regulators must stick to the mandate they have been given, and resist straying into other areas or advocating for certain policies... they need to do their job well, providing public assurance of safety and industry performance, and do so in an unbiased and neutral manner.
    • Regulators must speak out more - about what they do and how they do it - and engage the public better.
    • They must demystify their processes for the public - in the case of the NEB, for both our hearing/decision processes, and our life cycle regulatory processes.
    • Regulatory literacy is critical for effective community engagement in the life cycle regulation of energy infrastructure; regulators will need to do more to educate and create awareness for the public; and
    • Regulators must become a life cycle partner with communities - sharing more information on project performance - in discharging their life cycle public assurance role.
  • Thank you
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