Well, today is a day of numerous firsts.
This, right here, is our first blog post ever. We plan to make a regular home here at the Energy Collective, and look forward to some interesting debate and lively discussion, as well as finding a forum for sharing the Canadian electricity industry’s take, as I see it, on the energy issues of the day. It’s a fascinating time in the world of energy policy; today more than ever inextricably intertwined with environmental policy. The expectations for our electric future are enormous, and the challenges we may face in getting from here to there not insignificant. This will be a great forum to bring some additional clarity to the way forward, from the perspective of the industry members that have been charged with reshaping our electricity system to respond to the growing needs of our Canadian consumers.
And, in our industry’s acknowledgement of how multi-faceted this “responding to the growing electricity needs of the country” truly is, today marks the launch of our Sustainable Electricity program’s inaugural Annual Report. Sustainable Electricity (www.SustainableElectricity.ca) represents Canada’s electric utilities’ commitment to a sustainable electric future. A commitment we see as so integral to the business that we do that we made participation in Sustainable Electricity a pre-condition to membership here at CEA. And in order to ensure openness and transparency with the industry’s stakeholders, the Sustainable Electricity program is guided by a Public Advisory Panel, chaired by the Honourable Mike Harcourt, 30th premier of British Columbia and includes distinguished Canadians with diverse experiences in government, academia, environmental non-governmental organizations, industry, and the Aboriginal community.
Reading the report, I take some pride in the measures that our nation’s electric utilities have already undertaken to reflect the priority of sustainability. In 2008, CEA members were proactive in protecting species at risk (both aquatic and terrestrial) and their habitat through conservation programs, avian protection plans, and bird identification surveys in company service areas. In addition, absolute air emissions of sulphur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), and carbon dioxide (CO2) declined 13 percent, 7 percent and 8 percent, respectively due to increased hydroelectric, nuclear, and renewable-source generation, coupled with a decrease in fossil generation.
There is room for improvement on the environmental front, in particular on issues like climate change. While our members need to continue to be proactive at implementing forward looking changes, clear policy direction from the federal government will be essential to ensuring the right decisions can be made to meet national objectives set for the future.
The report also tracks social and economic performance indicators. Internal energy efficiency measures, demand side management, donations to registered charities, health and safety, engagement of Aboriginal peoples and stakeholder groups, and workplace diversity… I encourage you each to visit the Sustainable Electricity website, where you’ll find the report in high resolution pdf, and explore some of the findings.
The 2008 inaugural report showcases industry accomplishments and demonstrates the commitment CEA members have made to continually improve their overall sustainable development performance.
I feel that, as an industry, we’ve given ourselves the right tools for continuous improvement, and that this proactive approach to managing our impacts will most assuredly be good for all Canadians.
I look forward to lively discussion in this forum, but invite you to contact me directly should you so choose.