So Your Energy System is Changing? What Next?
July 02, 2019
The last decade has seen rapid technological innovation. Those of us in Canada have experienced this firsthand and can see how technology has altered the way we live our lives, from how we work to how we communicate.
Energy has not been immune to these vast changes in technology. Where people can really see innovation is in how we manage and use energy, and in our ability to produce energy ourselves.
THE ENERGY SYSTEM IS ALREADY CHANGING
Policies to reduce carbon emissions, and the need for new ways of managing energy, is what started the change in the energy system. Cost is another. Since 2009, the costs for wind have declined by 66%, and solar costs have seen a drop of 70%. Energy users are making economic decisions to move to new energy technologies.
The redesign of the conventional energy delivery system to cleaner energy is not only inevitable, but is underway.
While the system will look mostly the same to the average Canadian, the rules and players may be vastly different. We have a lot to learn about how Canadians will be impacted by this transformation.
Energy users now have more choices in how they acquire, consume or even generate energy. As a result, utilities, that previously held a near-virtual monopoly over energy services, need to adapt. While utilities are trying to adapt, at different speeds across the country, it is clear that our policies and regulations are falling behind.
Pollution Probe and QUEST recently produced a report – Canada’s Energy Transformation – Evolution or Revolution? – that looks at how we can manage risk and create opportunities as we build low-emission energy systems. The report was made possible through funding support from Natural Resources Canada.
Local utilities in Canada are regulated companies, which means that public utility regulators, such as the Ontario Energy Board or the Alberta Utilities Commission, maintain control over what utilities can do. Regulation was introduced for a very good reason: energy is crucial and we have to ensure that affordable and reliable energy is available to all. Given this importance, any transformation must continue to ensure that access and reliability is maintained.