Themes:

The Future Electric Utility: Consolidation

June 1, 2015

Consolidation will be one of the topics discussed at this week’s conference on the future of Ontario’s electric utilities. After the regulatory reforms of the 1990s, some municipalities sold their LDCs as they were too small to operate efficiently under the new rules. Other LDCs sought efficiencies through mergers, maintaining the involvement of their respective municipalities in the electric utility, while others...

Creating markets for energy solutions

May 31, 2015

The programs that implement smart energy community strategies create markets for energy efficiency, renewable energy, thermal energy, and more.  They attract investment and business to serve emerging markets and catalyze innovation. This was just confirmed for me during my participation in the Transatlantic Urban Climate Dialogue. Canadian innovators providing energy solutions will also need access to international markets to excel.  Collaborations...

A reunion of collaborators

May 26, 2015

I am heading to Washington DC in a couple of weeks for a reunion of sorts – a reunion of some of the former and current elected officials who met during a multi-year Transatlantic Urban Climate Dialogue (TUCD). The reunion is being organized by the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies. The TUCD is great example of the kind of collaboration...

The Future Electric Utility: Local Implications

May 25, 2015

As I have been preparing for the conference in June on the future of electric utilities in Ontario, I have been considering the implications for local governments and communities and reflecting on the observations and questions raised by the conference organizers. There are several risks associated with the changing business environment for electric utilities that their owners should be aware of. LDCs...

Recipe for collaboration

May 24, 2015

The collaborations that I have seen to be the most effective in building sustainable and smart communities follow a similar, although always unique, path: Set the agenda. Champion the agenda far and wide. Convene a community conversation to understand what matters. Connect people and ideas from across the community to promote innovation. Provide resources to support change and measure results. In...

The Future Electric Utility

May 21, 2015

I am speaking at a conference in June – The LDC of the Future – hosted by the Centre for Urban Energy at Ryerson College.  The target audience is municipal elected officials. It is a timely conference. The backdrop is that several converging trends are reshaping the energy sector in Canada. As part of Ontario’s electricity system, this transformation will impact...

Sustainability and CSR start with values

May 17, 2015

There is a reason why corporate social responsibility (CSR) is discussed around board room tables – it is legitimately a governance matter.  CSR is about leadership and the values that inform how decisions are made in an organization.  Some governance structures – like co-operatives and B Corps – are built around a shared set of social values. Ensuring cities are...

Connection grows prosperity

May 13, 2015

On June 2, I am part of a panel on sustainable and smart cities at a corporate social responsibility (CSR) conference. So why a session on sustainable and smart cities at a conference focussed on improving business performance through CSR, you might ask? I believe businesses will become increasingly invested in the success of cities given the new role of...

Ethical leadership

May 6, 2015

I had a coffee with a young women entrepreneur a few days ago.  She is working to certify her retail business as a B Corp and meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency. She is moving on a new business venture and was looking for a few community contacts to help make it a success – for her business...

The tenacity of the status quo

April 29, 2015

The status quo is remarkably tenacious even in the face of overwhelming evidence that change is an imperative. Whether it is a complex global system that needs to change – as is the case with global warming – or a moribund institution that has lost its way, the actors that protect the status quo are incredibly resourceful and resilient. Some...

Engage to increase energy literacy

April 23, 2015

I have recently heard several people talk about how we must increase the energy literacy of Canadians. It got me thinking about what’s in a name? The name of the body overseeing Guelph’s municipally-owned electric utility up until the restructuring of the industry in 1998 sort of says it all – The Board of Light and Heat Commissioners.  Their first...

Changing role for electric utilities

April 17, 2015

Usually, local governments initiate and lead community energy planning initiatives in their communities. This was not quite how it happened in Guelph. In 2003, the Guelph Hydro Board of Directors engaged in a strategic planning exercise with its management team. A fundamental question was posed given all of the changes precipitated by The Electricity Act in 1998. What business were...

Electricity sector innovation needs capital

April 8, 2015

From my vantage point, and I grant it is limited, I am having trouble discerning the long-term strategy behind the proposed sale of parts of Hydro One. From media reports, it appears that the complete sale of Hydro One’s distribution business is not on the table. Rather a partial sale of some of its franchise to municipally-owned local distribution companies...

We all crave connection

April 1, 2015

A couple of years ago, some work colleagues and I took an online survey called Strength Finder as part of a team development exercise. As its name implies, it helps you identify your core strengths. One of my core strengths was connection. No surprises there.  Making connections has been a key theme throughout my life. I love connecting people and ideas...

Taking a first step on climate change

March 30, 2015

If knowledge of the facts were sufficient, we would have responded to climate change a long time ago. Learning at a conceptual level grows our knowledge but rarely will it lead to change on its own. Targets give us the destination only. The path will only be fully discovered by walking it. Change will only happen by taking that first step. So...

Let's talk energy strategy

March 24, 2015

As energy planning and decision making becomes more local, municipal governments and their electricity distribution companies have more need to engage each other than ever before. Much of our national energy conversation has been focussed on supply. This has been true in communities too. As a community grows, the role of local electricity distribution companies has been to supply new...

Co-benefits of greenhouse gas reductions

March 19, 2015

I attended a public consultation last night on Ontario’s Climate Change Discussion Paper. It was a full house with lots of informed input. Fortunately, there wasn’t a climate change denier to be heard – apparently that was not the case in other communities. If the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change takes an integrated approach to climate change mitigation our...

Sustaining sustainability

March 17, 2015

Presented at the 2015 Federation of Canadian Municipalities Sustainable Communities Conference in London Ontario I am going to start with a brief story. There is much more to the story that I have time to tell and it involves many more people, but I want to use it to highlight three themes I believe are important to making sustainability part of...

Are electrical utilities the next stranded asset?

March 16, 2015

Wikimedia Commons All local governments have stranded assets – assets that through neglect have lost all or most of their value and have become a liability. Sometime a municipality is simply the last one standing and is left holding the bag. Neglect can take two forms. The most obvious is neglecting the maintenance of an asset. This is often the...

No one gives you permission to lead

March 15, 2015

In the past year, I have talked to several women who were active during the women’s movement in the ’70s and ’80s.  They are dismayed at the increase in misogyny they are seeing around them – globally and in their own communities.  I saw more attention to International Women’s Day in my community this year – perhaps this is why. ...