Given the key drivers and promising technology areas discussed throughout the Electric Utility Innovation report, CEA puts forward for consideration the following seven actions that can be taken today to ensure utilities have the mandate and means to invest in innovation moving forward:Align priorities and goals
Provincial regulators can express common priorities and goals through the Canadian Association of Members of Public Utility Tribunals (CAMPUT), and policymakers can do the same through the Council of the Federation’s work towards a National Energy Strategy. In both of these forums, CEA hopes participants will advocate for the need to transform Canada’s electricity infrastructure, markets and technologies through a long-term, sustained commitment to innovation.
Track grid modernization indicators at a national level
CEA has entered into discussions with Natural Resources Canada’s CanmetENERGY clean energy research program about conducting a regular smart grid metrics survey for Canadian utilities. Such a project would:
- Create a “dashboard” of national smart grid data;
- Enable data-backed insights and best practices to emerge;
- Inform R&D and demonstration funding; and,
- Provide a useful public reference for discussions with regulators and the public.
CEA and CanmetENERGY continue to explore this initiative, working toward an initial report in late 2015.
Through the International Energy Agency’s International Smart Grid Action Network (ISGAN), Canadian regulators, policymakers and utilities have access to the metrics that can serve as signposts of global trends. Canadian participation in the ISGAN program is managed through the CanmetENERGY program; support for these activities should remain strong moving forward.
Pool innovation funding to mitigate risks and spread out rewards
Share lessons learned
CEA contributes to Natural Resources Canada’s regularly updated Smart Grid in Canada report, which does a good job of collecting information on existing smart grid projects and initiatives. More must be done to identify key learnings and share them broadly. CEA is open to further discussions on how this can best be facilitated.
Lock in knowledge by developing codes and standards
Participation in standards development requires two increasingly scarce resources: staff time and travel budgets. It is critical, however, that utilities continue to support the development and maintenance of Canada’s system of codes and standards, in partnership with the Standards Council of Canada and the relevant standards development organizations.
Keep customers engaged and informed
The Environmental Commissioner of Ontario (ECO) has produced a customer-friendly report titled Smart from Sunrise to Sunset: A Primer on Ontario’s Evolving Electricity Grid, which is intended to help policymakers and the public alike become more familiar with the concept and potential of the smart grid.53 CEA fully supports public-facing efforts such as this, and applauds the ECO for taking the initiative to drive the dialogue forward in the public sphere.
Read more about CEA’s recommendations in the full Electric Utility Innovation report.