Earlier this year, the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) made improvements to the Statement of Concern (SOC) form, including making it compatible with mobile devices.
Imagine you're concerned about proposed development in your area and want to submit a SOC to the AER. But you also want to upload photos you’ve taken from the site. By using your mobile phone, you simply upload the photos along with your SOC—right then and there.
Historically, the main SOC submission option was to fill out a PDF form which presented compatibility issues, limiting the way filers could submit their documents. These improvements have addressed those issues.
Lynn Maric, SOC manager, said the AER has been working with stakeholders, Indigenous communities, and staff since 2019 on improving the SOC form and submission process.
“Through our engagements, we heard two points loud and clear. The SOC form needed to be more accessible and user-friendly. The changes we introduced reflect that input.”
With stakeholders in mind, the form was updated to be compatible with various devices including mobile phones. And the form itself was updated with targeted questions and clearer instructions making it easier for filers to separate and articulate their specific concerns and for the AER to review the documents.
“Understanding the concerns of Albertans through the SOC process is a vital part of energy regulation,” said Maric. “A SOC can be filed by anyone who believes they may be directly or adversely affected by a proposed project—be it a well on their land or a pipeline running through their community.” Maric added that the updates have resulted in no changes to SOC requirements or related definitions.
In 2020, the AER reviewed about 210 SOCs. Of those, about 81 per cent met SOC requirements. If the SOC is relevant, complete, and submitted on time, the AER will consider the filers’ concerns in its decision-making process.
Maric added that written forms are still being accepted for those who prefer mailing in their SOCs or those who find the online platform to be a barrier, as it is crucial that no one is left out of the process. Staff from regional offices can also provide filers with a copy of the new form. As well, industry operators can also share the new document.
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