Alberta Utilities Commission decides to continue processing
Amid a controversial pause in approvals, how is the Alberta Utilities Commission navigating the future of renewable energy in the province?

The Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) announced that it will persist in processing applications for new hydro developments and power plants that produce renewable electricity.

However, no approvals will be issued until the previously declared pause period expires on February 29, 2024.

Earlier this month, on August 3, the AUC opened the floor to stakeholders, asking for feedback on how to implement the approval pause.

The response was significant, with nearly 600 submissions received. These responses, described as “comprehensive and thoughtful” by the AUC, played a critical role in shaping the Commission’s next steps.

A Balanced Approach

The decision to continue reviewing applications, albeit without issuing approvals, is seen as a balanced approach. It offers regulatory clarity to stakeholders, keeping the door open for renewable energy applications without committing to any immediate approvals.

The current state of the AUC’s decision-making process is as follows:

Existing Applications: Filed before August 3, 2023, these will be processed as usual, although no approvals will be granted during the pause. Additional information might be required from applicants regarding agricultural land, viewscapes, and reclamation security.

New Applications: Those filed between August 3, 2023, and February 29, 2024, will be accepted and processed. Again, no approvals will be issued until the pause is lifted.

Next Steps & Modular Approach: The AUC plans to adopt a “module” approach to tackle the issues identified, and it’s in the process of finalizing a schedule for each module.

A Crucial Pause for Reflection

The decision to maintain this pause on approvals while continuing the review process may prove pivotal in shaping Alberta’s energy future. Many view it as a necessary pause for reflection as Alberta grapples with its leadership in the renewable energy sector.

The pause itself was instituted to allow the AUC to inquire and report on the ongoing economic, orderly, and efficient development of electricity generation. The underlying regulation doesn’t affect amendment applications or previously approved projects, thus maintaining some level of continuity in the process.


The AUC’s decision represents a nuanced approach to a complex issue. By continuing to accept and process applications without granting approvals, the Commission seems to be signaling a willingness to engage with the renewable energy sector while also recognizing concerns and potential pitfalls.

This six-month window provides an opportunity for a robust review and reflection.

Alberta stands at a crossroads, with its commitment to renewable energy on one side and concerns about feasibility and impact on the other.

The outcome of this pause period and the AUC’s ultimate decisions could very well shape the future of renewable energy not just in Alberta, but potentially set precedents for other jurisdictions facing similar challenges.

In the words of many industry insiders, the next six months will be “crucial.” The AUC’s comprehensive review might become a blueprint for how regions worldwide address the challenges of renewable energy expansion and sustainability.

Derick Lila
Derick is a Clark University graduate—and Fulbright alumni with a Master's Degree in Environmental Science, and Policy. He has over a decade of solar industry research, marketing, and content strategy experience.

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