Themes:

District energy systems growing in Canada

August 31, 2015

Many European communities, particularly after the oil crisis in the 1970s, began to improve energy efficiency, reduce reliance of imported fossil fuels and make better use of local and renewable fuel sources by encouraging local energy production with district energy. For example, Copenhagen today meets 97% of the city’s heating needs with district energy. A recent inventory of district energy systems in...

When electricity customers become a distributed energy resource

August 19, 2015

New technologies are turning electricity customers into a distributed energy resource and that is changing how we view the electricity grid. While some view the growth of distributed generation as a threat to electric utilities others see an opportunity. It is true that new technologies that promote conservation and efficiency and distributed generation are challenging the financial sustainability of electric distribution...

Economics of localization

July 27, 2015

Wherever you look, you can find examples of localization. This is a video of interesting speaker talking about how place matters more than ever today.  There are some great messages like moving from “someone should” to “let’s”(so important if we are to address climate change), turning NIMBY into SWIMBY (you need to watch to find out what that means) and seeing our...

Does Sweden have skeptics?

July 15, 2015

I wonder if Swedish newspapers still have columnists speculating on whether climate change is real or not.  This week, a Globe and Mail columnist referred to climate change as “as unfortunate by-product of progress, one that may or may not cause serious problems down the road”. If they do, it doesn’t seem to distract them – or Scandinavia in general. Krisianstad...

Three recommendations for Ontario's Climate Strategy

July 8, 2015

I was also asked, as part of my participation in the Ontario Climate Change Lab, to provide three recommendations for inclusion in Ontario’s Climate Strategy related to cities and municipalities. Here were my recommendations: Raise the bar on energy plans. Mandate and support cities to double their primary energy productivity in 20 years using community energy planning as the framework...

Ten Reasons Why Cities Must be Part of Ontario’s Climate Strategy

July 7, 2015

I was asked to present as a part of a panel at the Ontario Climate Change Lab yesterday.  I started with 10 reasons why cities and municipalities must be part of Ontario’s Climate Strategy. Climate change is serious. It will require both individual and collective action. No one gets a pass including cities and municipalities.  There just isn’t the time....

Cities as Global Actors

June 29, 2015

In addition to meeting with counterparts from Italian cities last week, I had the additional good fortune to connect with colleagues from Germany and the U.S. to discuss how cities are responding to the energy transformation. The audio recording of the panel presentations and discussion have been made available.  

Sharing smart cities practice between Canada and Italy

June 29, 2015

I had the very good fortune last week to be invited by the Canadian Embassy in Rome to speak about cities – what makes them smart, sustainable and ready for the digital age.  

#OpenGov - Integration

June 21, 2015

Taking the time to integrate the principles of Open Government into daily practice is important to drive the transformation to the digital age.  In Guelph this has included: a Civic Innovation Lab which will serve as a testing ground for new ideas convening interdisciplinary teams of policy makers, funders, citizens, service providers, business and labour to enable those with firsthand...

#OpenGov – Walk the talk

June 20, 2015

Open Government – the transition to the digital age – is a tremendous platform to engage public sector workers.  Your leadership – both elected and appointed – better be impeccable with their word and deeds or the naysayers and doubters – expected in any change management process – will have a field day snuffing out every bright light in your organization. This...

#OpenGov – Practice is messy

June 19, 2015

Practice makes perfect?  Perhaps.  But first it makes an unholy mess. A lesson for governments wanting to “go digital”? Practice disruption – often. Practice disruption even though you work in a fish bowl – knowing full well how easy it is for others to have an opinion when they have no responsibility – or accountability.  Do it anyways. Providing an...

#OpenGov – Beyond compliance

June 18, 2015

Compliance is the enemy of accountability.   Once you tick a box, your responsibility ends.  You are safe.  It is “compliance” that make a veteran prove annually that he lost his legs in order to receive benefits.  That is not the fault of the person ticking the box – it is the fault of the system based on hierarchies and silos. Open...

#OpenGov – Local disruption

June 17, 2015

As the song lyric says, “video killed the radio star”.  Incremental change is not new but the scale of disruption being caused by the emerging digital age is something different altogether. Shedding the tools, systems and thinking of an industrial era would be hard enough if it was just an internal exercise for local government. Institutions have drawn comfort from holding information...

#OpenGov - Early Trials

June 16, 2015

Guelph was practicing aspects of its digital age strategy (Open Government) long before a complete framework was built. In 2002, an innovative community engagement process was launched.  The community was invited to co-produce a set of sustainability principles to guide municipal planning.  These principles have since been integrated into the City’s growth plans. The public was asked to participate as...

#OpenGov - More than that

June 15, 2015

Open Government is what we have called Guelph’s strategy to adapt our local government to the digital age. We may need a new name before we are done. Too often it is mistaken for just more government transparency while open data enthusiasts see it as paving the way to new sources of government data. Open access to information, sharing rather...

#OpenGov - Let's Get Digital

June 14, 2015

I can take a picture of a cheque and deposit it instantly into my credit union account using my smart phone. The technology that permits this convenience is remarkable – and only a few years ago would have been inconceivable to most of us. More remarkable is the social transformation underway, which lies behind the technology, as we shift from the industrial...

Energiewende on the ground

June 6, 2015

A big learning to share in June from my participation in the Transatlantic Urban Climate Dialogue (TUCD) was getting to see how Germany’s national policy Energiewende (energy transition) was being implemented at the local level. Energiewende is the transition by Germany to an energy portfolio focussed on energy efficiency, thermal and renewable energy and sustainable development – the backbone of community energy planning.  Germany’s long-term goal is...

Opportunity for electric utilities

June 4, 2015

The electricity sector is recognizing opportunities to innovate in areas of demand response, the facilitation of distributed generation and electric cars, optimization of asset use, fault detection, mitigation and storage[1].  How can the provincial regulator support innovation and value creation in Ontario’s LDCs? LDCs should be encouraged to embrace the transition to a new energy future and extract value out...

Multi-service energy providers

June 3, 2015

The good news is that the transformation occurring in the energy sector is being driven by many benefits: increased system efficiency, lower system costs, reduced energy bills, increased clean vehicles, increased energy efficiency and competitiveness, reduced emissions, increased system resilience and reliability, and increased energy security. The question for municipal owners of electric utilities is whether their community is interested in...

The Future Electric Utility: Regulatory Change

June 2, 2015

The growing risk to a significant municipal asset – electric utilities – and the increasing localization of energy decision-making with draw more municipalities into provincial regulatory discussions. See earlier posts: The Future Electric Utility The Future Electric Utility: Local Implications Municipal owners of electric utilities have an interest in seeing proactive regulatory change that helps pave the way to a new energy...