Scorecard in works to help keep tabs on utilities' move to clean energy

·3 min read
N.B. Power's Coleson Cove generating station sits on the edge of the Bay of Fundy in Saint John.   (Robert Jones/CBC - image credit)
N.B. Power's Coleson Cove generating station sits on the edge of the Bay of Fundy in Saint John. (Robert Jones/CBC - image credit)

A new scorecard will help evaluate the efforts of Canadian utilities in their transition to clean energy.

On Thursday, Saint John-Rothesay MP Wayne Long announced the development of the smart energy scorecard.

The federal government is providing Fredericton-based Smart Grid Innovation Network with $815,115 for the project and scorecard development. The money comes from a Natural Resources Canada's renewables and electrification program.

Greg Robart, the network's chief executive officer, said the scorecard will fill a gap.

Available in other industries

"If you want to take a flight somewhere or buy a car, there are repositories of data where you can compare cars and airlines, with stats on how well they provide the services," Robart said in an interview with CBC News.

"That exact same thing for utilities is really hard to find."

Robart said Canadian utility providers are working hard to clean up their power grids.

"It would be good for us as a society to be able to understand what utilities are doing what."

The scorecard will make it easier for utilities to map out their goals and measure their progress toward the achievement of a net-zero electricity grid, Jonathan Wilkinson, Canada's minister of natural resources, said in a news release.

The development of the scorecard will be a two-year project.

How the project will benefit the industry

Robart said the federal money will be distributed among the network's partners in the project, which include the University of New Brunswick.

"Historically, the utility world has been a close group of really deep experts, and there's not a lot of conversation outside of that," Robart said.

UNB's involvement will bring a youthful perspective into the conversation, he said.

Robart said the scorecard might help motivate utilities to step up their performance if it reveals they're lagging behind others in the industry.

Going back to the auto and travel industry analogy, he said, "they're working on the things that their scores are low on,  and they're promoting and marketing those things that they're really good at."

The scorecard should also allow utilities to help each other by providing insights into industry best practices.

"Part of the project is to start to share some of those best practices in a standard knowledge base where everybody has access to it."

Some of the federal funds will be used to build the repository for that knowledge.

Robert Jones/CBC News
Robert Jones/CBC News

The scorecard could also help attract investment in Canada or new businesses.

"Especially in the business world, a big part of running a business is energy costs and reliability and what services you can get in those regions," he said.

The first phase of the project, Robart said, will be identifying what data is already available in the industry.

"Because there aren't many standards in the space, not all utilities track everything the same way in Canada."

He expects the first data sets from the project to be released in about a year.