Updated December 2022
This EnerFAQs provides information about the Alberta Energy Regulator’s (AER’s) Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) program. It describes the dispute resolution options available through the program and how they can help parties resolve disputes over energy industry projects.
The focus of this EnerFAQs is solely on ADR administered by AER staff and not ADR conducted by an AER hearing commissioner.
- What is ADR?
- What are the goals of ADR?
- What are the benefits of ADR?
- When may ADR be used?
- What if some issues are outside of the AER’s jurisdiction?
- Which ADR option is right for me?
- How do I start the ADR process?
- How much time is needed for an ADR meeting?
- How do I prepare for the ADR meeting?
- Who will attend the meeting?
- Will a written agreement be drafted?
- Who pays costs of an ADR?
- If I participate in ADR, will the application automatically be put on hold?
- How does ADR work when there is a group of concerned parties?
- Are ADR discussions confidential?
- What do “confidentiality” and “without prejudice” mean in ADR?
- Where can I find more information on ADR at the AER?
- Besides ADR, how else can I get my concern addressed at the AER?
- Additional Information
ADR helps people explore and understand what is important to one another and develop acceptable solutions together by creating an environment that supports respectful discussion. The solutions generated by the parties reflect what is important to each of them and are often solutions that would not have been arrived at individually.
- improve communication and relationships between parties (e.g., between a company and landowners),
- encourage local solutions for local problems, and
- ensure the efficient use of everyone’s time and resources.
What are the main benefits of ADR?
ADR is a more cost-effective, timely, and flexible approach tailored to the parties’ needs compared with other AER options for resolving disputes, such as a hearing.
In an AER hearing, however, issues outside the AER’s jurisdiction would not be discussed or form part of the AER’s decision.
How do I prepare for the ADR meeting?
Think about what you wish to discuss and prepare a list of questions. Compile any useful resource materials, such as maps or survey plans, to make sure that all concerns are understood.
The ADR specialist will work with you to ensure that you feel ready to participate in the meeting.
Keep an open mind and a willingness to speak honestly. Try to understand the views of everyone involved.
Who will attend the meeting?
The right people must be at the table. In mediation, for example, participants must have the authority to decide on the issues. This will prevent delays when decision makers are not present to approve proposed solutions.
The ADR specialist will determine if having an AER subject matter expert attend to provide information about relevant aspects of AER legislation would be beneficial.
The parties may also bring lawyers or advisors to the ADR meeting. The ADR specialist will work with the parties to determine who needs to attend and their role.
Will a written agreement be drafted?
If you reach an agreement at an ADR meeting, a written agreement should be drawn up. It is up to the parties, but if commitments are made at the meeting, the ADR specialist will ask for those commitments from the participating company in writing. All parties will have input into the wording of the commitments. For more information, see EnerFAQs The AER and You: Agreements, Commitments, and Conditions.
Who pays costs of an ADR?
The AER’s ADR process is a free service. Costs for ADR meetings (e.g., room costs) are generally small and usually covered by the participating energy company. Before the first meeting, the parties should address costs beyond direct meeting costs (including legal fees).
How does ADR work when there is a group of concerned parties?
Sometimes parties will have the same concerns. When meeting with the parties, the ADR specialist will explore the various options available and help determine the best process for the parties.
Are ADR discussions confidential?
Yes. The ADR specialist is bound by confidentiality, and the discussion between parties is confidential unless the parties agree otherwise. Discussions are also conducted without prejudice.
What do “confidentiality” and “without prejudice” mean in ADR?
“Confidential” means that private information disclosed by the parties is not shared outside the ADR process unless agreed to by all. Experience has shown that an atmosphere of open, honest dialogue enhances the chance of a successful outcome. Parties are encouraged to fully disclose their interests without reservation to increase the range of solutions developed and evaluated.
“Without prejudice” means that any admissions, concessions, proposals, and offers to settle made by one party during the ADR process cannot be raised by the other party during a proceeding unless both parties agree.
Parties will discuss confidentiality, without prejudice, and information sharing early in the ADR process.
Where can I find more information on ADR at the AER?
Our ADR specialists are available across Alberta and are happy to answer questions about the ADR process. Email @email to contact an ADR specialist.
We also have an ADR page on our website, as well as the following documents:
- Manual 004: Alternative Dispute Resolution Program and Guidelines for Energy Industry Disputes
- the Alberta Energy Regulator Rules of Practice
- the Responsible Energy Development Act
- file a statement of concern (see EnerFAQs Expressing Your Concerns – How to File a Statement of Concern About an Energy Resource Project),
- file a complaint by calling the Energy and Environmental 24-hour Response Line at 1-800-222-6514, or
- submit a request for regulatory appeal on an approved application.
Other avenues may also exist outside the AER. The ADR specialist should be able to provide you with information on those external avenues.
For more information on the AER and its processes or if you wish to speak with your local field centre or have questions about energy resource development in Alberta, contact the AER Customer Contact Centre: Monday to Friday (8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) at 1-855-297-8311 (toll free).
Each year the AER collects, compiles, and publishes a large amount of technical data and information about Alberta’s energy development and resources for use by industry and the public. This includes raw data, statistics, hearing materials, and information on regulations, policies, and decisions.
Publications may be downloaded free of charge from the AER website (www.aer.ca) or made available through the Products and Services Catalogue by contacting Data & Information Services (email: @email).
Energy and Environmental 24-hour Response Line (emergencies and complaints): 1-800-222-6514 (toll free)