The National Energy Board hearings that started in Saint John Monday aren't the only opportunity for the public to voice its views on the Energy East pipeline.

Earlier this year, the federal government announced it would appoint board members to an additional panel to help expand public input on the pipeline project.

The creation of the separate panel is part of Ottawa's focus on overhauling the NEB's regulatory regime.

Here's what you need to know about the panel:

What will the panel be doing?

Up to four panel members will be visiting communities along the pipeline route to hear people's views on Energy East, according to Marc Drolet, communications officer for the NEB.

These consultations will be separate from the current NEB hearings. 

It hasn't been determined yet where the panel will be visiting or whether the public sessions will be town hall-style or more formally structured.  

Drolet said the NEB is waiting for input from the board members on the format. Unlike the ongoing NEB hearings, the panel would be open to the general public instead of a set number of interveners.

When are the board members being appointed?

The four board members will be appointed in the fall, according to Natural Resources Canada.

The New Brunswick government would like to see people from the province on the panel.

Map of Energy East

TransCanada Corp.'s proposed pipeline project, which would carry 1.1 million barrels a day from Alberta through Quebec to an export terminal in Saint John, N.B. (Canadian Press)

"It would be great if we had somebody from New Brunswick," said Rick Doucet, minister of energy and resource development. 

"As a matter of fact it would be great to have a few people from New Brunswick ... because this is the point where the pipeline is going to end."

When will the panel wrap up?

The panel will submit a report to the three member board carrying out the NEB hearings on April 25, 2017. 

"Board Members carrying out the engagement activities will report to the Hearing Panel on what they have heard," according to the NEB's website.

"This will be an opportunity to engage in a productive debate about whether the project is in the Canadian public interest." 

The public engagement sessions should wrap up a few weeks before the report is due in April, according to Drolet.