Regulatory processes

Two men review blueprints in an office

As a utility, FortisBC is regulated by the British Columbia Utilities Commission (BCUC). Depending on the project, federal and provincial government regulatory approvals may also be required.

These regulatory processes provide important oversight for our work to ensure our ratepayers are getting value, and we deliver quality projects in a way that respects the local community, Indigenous groups and the environment. Fulfilling the requirements of a regulatory review can be a lengthy process involving considerable research and planning—and can take years to complete.

BCUC approval process

The BCUC is an independent agency of the government of British Columbia. It reviews applications from regulated entities through open, transparent public proceedings. It regulates BC’s energy utilities, the Insurance Corporation of BC’s basic automobile insurance rates, common carrier pipeline operations and rates and the reliability of the electrical transmission grid.  

Securing the BCUC’s approval to proceed with an energy project includes obtaining a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN). Our FortisBC Gas Line Upgrades project, which involved replacing 20 kilometres of gas line in Coquitlam, Burnaby and Vancouver that was nearing the end of its useful life, was completed in December 2019. It obtained its CPCN following a process that spanned several years:

  • 2013: Need identified/early project planning and concept development begins.
  • Spring 2014: Consultation and engagement with local and Indigenous communities, municipalities and other interested stakeholders begins.
  • December 2014: Detailed CPCN application submitted to the BCUC, including a demonstrated need for the project, as well as evidence that consultation and engagement with those living, working and representing the areas where work would take place was conducted in a satisfactory manner and that we were taking steps to address the feedback we received during our planning process.
  • 2015: The project received BCUC approval and a CPCN. Engagement continues with the local municipalities where construction will take place—City of Coquitlam, City of Burnaby and the City of Vancouver—and with regulators, to refine our plans and obtain the necessary municipal permits.
  • 2018–2019: Construction is underway. Ongoing engagement with local and Indigenous communities continued during construction. We provided the BCUC with project updates at every stage, including updates related to public engagement and enquiries.

Recent FortisBC projects that have received BCUC approval include the Pattullo Gas Line Replacement in Burnaby, the Inland Gas Upgrades throughout inland regions of BC and the Coastal Transmission System Upgrades in the Lower Mainland.

FortisBC projects that have filed an application with the BCUC and are awaiting a decision include the Okanagan Capacity Upgrade, the Tilbury LNG Storage Expansion in Delta and the Advanced Gas Meters project throughout our gas service territory in BC. 

Typical project timeline

Regulatory timeline activities

Provincial regulatory approval

Large-scale projects in BC undergo a process led by the Environmental Assessment Office (EAO), a provincial regulatory agency. The environmental assessment process helps ensure that any potential environmental, economic, social, cultural and health effects that may occur during the lifetime of a major project are thoroughly assessed. Projects that are approved by the EAO receive an Environmental Assessment Certificate.  

The Eagle Mountain - Woodfibre Gas Pipeline project, with proposed work to take place between Squamish and Coquitlam, received its EAO certificate on August 9, 2016. The Tilbury project filed its detailed project description with the EAO on September 8, 2021.

Federal regulatory approval

Projects may be subject to a federal impact assessment by the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada (IAAC), if they meet certain thresholds. The IAAC is a federal body accountable to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change. It delivers impact assessments that look at both positive and negative environmental, economic, social and health impacts of potential projects.

For the proposed Tilbury project, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change has approved the province’s request for substitution of the impact assessment. This means the BC EAO will lead the assessment on behalf of IAAC.

Other permits

Permits may also be required from agencies including the BC Energy Regulator, municipalities and regional districts, government agencies and other utility operators such as BC Hydro or TELUS. We work closely with these groups when needed. 

Get involved

Members of local and Indigenous communities and other stakeholders are invited to get involved in our project regulatory processes. The public can access information about our applications, and comment on them, through the website of each regulatory body.
We also encourage the community to engage with us at our public information sessions, or by phone and email, to ask questions and provide feedback.  
We continue communicating with the public once construction starts to provide project updates and notifications of where and when work is taking place in the community.

Do you have a comment, or a question that our website doesn’t answer? Call or email us any time.