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An AER hearing is a formal court-like process. We use hearings to gather information before making a decision on energy applications. At a hearing,

  • participants present evidence, ask questions, and make arguments about energy projects; and
  • information, evidence, questions, and responses are all weighed and balanced by a panel of AER hearing commissioners, who are adjudicators with specialized knowledge in a variety of fields related to the energy industry.

Hearing Timelines

Although timelines vary, the following is a general guide to the typical hearing process. The actual time it takes to complete the process will be determined by the assigned hearing panel. The hearing panel considers the unique facts and circumstances to ensure a fair hearing schedule.

Part 1 of the hearing process timeline provides guidelines for the length of a few types of typical AER hearings.
Part 2 shows the order of activities for a typical hearing and approximate timelines for a hearing on a small energy project.

AER Hearing Process for Participants

Project process diagram

(Click to view larger image - PDF)

Part 1 — Estimated Timelines for Various Types of Hearings

The following does not include alternative dispute resolution (ADR), adjournments, or the time to issue a decision report.

Type of hearing Estimated time to hold a hearing Sitting time
Well, facility, or pipeline project with one landowner or limited issues


3 months (more detail in part 2 below) 1–2 days
Complex project (large pipeline, oil sands development, or coal mine) with multiple participants 4–5 months 1–2 weeks
Joint hearing with Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency 1–2 years 2–4 weeks
Written hearing Highly variable; often the timeline for a written hearing is longer than for an oral hearing. 0

Part 2 — Estimated Hearing Timeline for a Small Energy Project Involving One Landowner

Step Description Estimated time from start of process
Notice of hearing This notice is a legal requirement of the AER. It officially starts the hearing process. 1 week
Information session An informal meeting with participants to explain the AER hearing process. This session is led by AER staff. A session may or may not be held, depending on the need expressed by participants. 2–3 weeks
Request to participate Individuals must request to participate in an AER hearing, even if they filed a statement of concern. The hearing panel decides who can participate. 1–4 weeks
Prehearing meeting A formal meeting is held to determine procedural matters such as issues, participation, and scheduling. This meeting is led by the hearing panel. This meeting may or may not be held, depending on the hearing panel’s assessment of the need for a meeting. 4–5 weeks
Notice of scheduling of hearing This notice is the second part of the notice of hearing and announces the location and timing of the hearing. 3–6 weeks
Submissions Submissions are the written evidence that will be presented at the hearing. They are due before the start of the hearing. This step ensures that all parties have access to the same information and can prepare for the hearing. 3–12 weeks
Hearing Like in a formal court, participants present evidence and are questioned (cross examined) about their evidence by the hearing participants. At the end of the hearing, participants may make arguments to the hearing panel about how they want the panel to decide. 4–16 weeks
Decision A formal report from the hearing panel that states the decision and the reasons for it. 90 days after 
the hearing