Stakeholder engagement and consultation the new strategy of the Alberta Energy Regulator

AER CEO Jim Ellis. Image: AER

The Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) says it’s taking a “new approach” to its strategic plan, one which will increase the focus on stakeholder engagement and public consultation.

In its 2016/17 annual report released on Tuesday, the AER said it’s developing a new strategy “that considers the challenges we face today and the ones that lie ahead.”

“Low oil prices have resulted in job losses and industry consolidation; the world transitions to renewable forms of energy; new technologies are used to unlock unconventional resources. These are just some of the factors requiring new regulatory approaches,” the regulator said.

Increased stakeholder engagement and consultation will be a key component of the AER’s strategy moving forward, it said.

“At the same time, we know that Albertans expect and deserve to be better informed about and involved in the energy development process. We need to find new ways to include stakeholders, indigenous communities, and Albertans in decisions, and we must continue to report on our work in an open and transparent way.”

The AER added that it must continue to strive to achieve the delicate balance of ensuring public safety and environmental protection and enforcing its regulatory requirements, “all while ensuring economic benefits” for the province.

“Our model for regulatory excellence will help us become a regulator that demonstrates utmost integrity, stellar competence, and empathic engagement. Over the past four years we’ve used our strategic plan to build a strong foundation for a regulator that continues to improve and that seeks ground-breaking approaches to regulatory development, stakeholder engagement and industry performance,” the AER said.

“We’re developing a new strategy for the AER, one that considers the challenges we face today and the ones that lie ahead. In the coming months, we’ll reach out to stakeholders, indigenous communities, and Albertans.”

The AER said it will discuss its strategy and explain its plan to “address big issues such as cumulative effects, managing large-scale projects with an integrated approach, improving industry performance, and addressing how we move aging oil and gas infrastructure into abandonment and reclamation more quickly.”

The new strategic plan will also include targets and measures that hold the AER accountable to Albertans, ensuring that the regulator’s work is related to outcomes that matter and that it delivers on its commitments.

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