Oct 12, 2020
Dan Seguin 00:41
Hey, everyone, welcome back. This is the ThinkEnergy podcast. The electric power grid has been called the world's largest machine and the greatest engineering achievement of the 20th century. No matter where you live, the electricity grid is the machine that connects us to one another. In a modern world, the affordability and reliability of the country's electricity grid can be directly tied to its prosperity, stability, and the health of its citizens. Canada has been very fortunate. We have one of the most reliable electrical grids in the world. But Canadians are demanding more. They want to interact and connect with the grid like never before. They want their devices to use and produce electricity seamlessly. They want home generation, cleaner buildings, an EV transportation infrastructure, they want clean air and less pollution. Today we're going to talk about Canada's expansive electricity grid. From our humble beginnings in 1883, when Canada's parliament building in Ottawa became one of the first government buildings in the world to be outfitted with incandescent lighting, to speculating about what the world holds for Canada's electricity system. It's all on today's program. The electricity landscape is transforming thanks to more complex customer demands, and rapidly evolving technologies. In short, Canada's electricity industry must be at the forefront of this change or risk being left behind. But is it that simple? The electric grid is more than just infrastructure. It takes a village to run including asset owners, manufacturers, service providers, and government officials at the federal, provincial, and local levels. That must all work together. So here's today's big question. What does Canada's electricity future look like? And who is at the helm of its metamorphosis? To help us better understand a topic as big as Canada itself, we invited a very special guest, the President and CEO of the Canadian Electricity Association, Francis Bradley. Francis, perhaps you can start by telling us a bit about yourself, what drew you to your current role and what the Canadian electricity Association does?
Francis Bradley 03:20
Well, it's a long and winding road. You know, I was always interested in energy when I was a kid. But I studied political science. And I worked in the oil and gas sector and I worked in the banking sector. Before just by happenstance, I landed at CEA and that was 34 years ago. I've worked in every role at CEA from that time, from communications to member services to cybersecurity emergency preparedness, US affairs, I've lobbied up on Parliament Hill. And I was even acting treasurer and Secretary for the Association for a time. So what CEA is and what CEA does is we're the association that is the voice of Canada's electricity industry. Our members are the 40 largest electricity companies in Canada. So it's the companies that generate, transmit, distribute, and provide customer service to electricity customers, literally from coast to coast to coast. Our numbers are in every province and in all three territories.
Dan Seguin 04:31
How would you describe the future of Canada's electricity sector and its importance to Canada's economic future and prosperity?
Francis Bradley 04:39
Well, we are living in a time when we have a government in Ottawa that is committed to a netzero GHG emissions by 2050. There's generally a consensus throughout society that that the future will be a future that will be a decarbonized future. And so that's a future that will be electric, frankly, you know, the only way we're going to be able to get to that low carbon future will be by increasing the use of electricity, frankly, in as many places as we can, the obvious ones are transportation. But you know, to be able to get really, really significant carbon reductions over the long term, we're going to have to look at electrifying not just transportation, but industrial process and heating, ventilation, air conditioning. And then when it you know, when it comes to transportation, it's going to have to be more than just, you know, electric cars, it's going to have to be really transportation across the board. But, you know, electricity has been the great enabler of modern society, and it's only going to continue in the future to be that critical, and that important piece that enabler of the future, because that future is going to be even more electric. You know, we're an industry that employs almost 100,000, Canadians, everything from lineworkers, to helicopter pilots to control room specialists. So you know, it's an industry that represents some very diverse skill sets. But that's going to be changing even more so in the future. Right. Even today, Dan, you know, there is this massive expansion because of the increase in the use of digital technologies in our space. And that's only going to increase as we head towards 2050. That there will always be line workers to make sure that the the electricity gets to the customers, but increasingly, the kinds of specialties that companies require, to be able to provide the kind of services that customers are going to need in the future means that that profile is going to change. And you know, what, we're going to start looking more and more like high tech companies than then strictly sort of building an engineering companies, you know, not to pander to the audience. But your, your company, I think, was the first company to introduce, what was it? A smart speaker skill. You know, speaking of AI, right? We're, I think you guys were the first out of the gate with your own smart speaker skill that you developed for Alexa and for Google Assistant. But you know, that that's, that really is just the very beginning of what that future is going to look like today. We use a little bit of what what is, you know, sort of the beginnings of AI in our homes to control some of our electricity use. But you know, cache your mind 30 years into the future? 2050? What is that going to look like? How much AI is going to be involved in the development of and implementation of a smarter energy system and a smarter electricity system?
Dan Seguin 08:07
Great segue to the question, what kinds of innovation are leading the current transformation of the electricity industry here in Canada? And can you give us some examples of other countries that are innovating their energy sectors in profound ways?
Francis Bradley 08:25
You know, the innovation that we see in the electricity sector is probably the thing that I find most exciting about the industry, the electricity industry, right now, it is endlessly fascinating, because it is so fast moving. When I joined the sector, 34 years ago, I never would have imagined that we would be one of the sectors that was at the leading edge of the development of new innovative solutions, not just to the, you know, the production and transportation of electricity, but to energy use, writ large, we see innovation, transforming the industry. And we see it coming from, as I say, from from within the industry, as well. So, you know, as one of my colleagues likes to point out that well, a lot of innovation takes place in Silicon Valley. And a lot of innovation takes place, you know, in the IT world, there's also a heck of a lot of innovation that we see taking place here, in in Canada - and within the electricity sector itself. We see people that are on the absolute leading edge of so many innovations with respect to the generation the use of electricity, the implementation, your company, for example, with your MiGen transactive grid is something that, you know, people all across North America and probably around the world are watching very carefully to see to see how that is is is rolling out and how it's being implemented. But you know, we have Worldwide leaders on the use of electricity, electricity transformation, electricity transportation and electrification of transportation, we have some absolute world leaders here in Canada, and, you know, go all the way up to the top of the value chain with respect to generation, and we see incredible innovation taking place, both in the sort of the traditional side of electricity generation, whether it's trying to figure out how hydro dams can be more efficient. And how we can extract more megawatts that have the same amount of water, to looking at how we capture carbon, which is an issue of, you know, in, in some jurisdictions, in this country, where, you know, the options for generating electricity may not be quite as, as numerous as here in central Canada. But you know, we have the the first ever utility scale carbon capture and storage facility, the world's first was built here in Canada, in Saskatchewan, of all places, you know, we see a great deal of innovation in that space as well. But you know, we're also a sector that's looking out and looking out around the world, and seeing where other new approaches are being developed and what can be adapted and used for our jurisdictions. Electricity transportation, for example, a great deal of innovation taking place in in Scandinavia. And so there is a lot of interest, both in terms of the approaches from a technical standpoint, but there in particular, from also from a policy standpoint, what are the policy innovations that are being put in place, that are that are that are moving them far more quickly into an electric transportation future. And then Jeez, you know, you can even look at the emerging hydrogen economy and new technologies that are that are being developed and implemented, South Korea would be an example where we're, we're seeing, you know, 200 megawatt plant, a hydrogen fuel cell plant, that is that is being built that again, will be a world beater. So, you know, we're seeing innovation right here in Ottawa, and we're seeing innovation all around the world. And as a sector, we're trying to figure out, Okay, how do we take the best of all of those, whether it's technical innovation, or or regulatory innovation? And how do we look at implementing it to the benefit of customers here in Canada,
Dan Seguin 12:42
Over the last number of months, many Canadians have transformed their homes into classrooms, workspaces, meeting spaces and care centers. How has our industry come together to tackle this pandemic challenge? As an industry, what's been our role?
Francis Bradley 13:01
There are a number of companies here in Canada and in the United States, that had pandemics as one of their planning criterias, when they were doing emergency planning and emergency preparedness. So nobody could have predicted exactly how the pandemic itself would have rolled out. But companies all across North American, you know, and elsewhere, had been planning for this kind of a contingency, this kind of a challenge. And so, that's one of the interesting things, you know, if we, if we look back over, you know, the past several months, one of the really interesting things is that we did not see a failure of the electricity system as a result of COVID-19. In fact, you know, we've worked very hard with other sectors as well, we didn't see failures in critical infrastructure as a result of COVID-19. Now, it still created some really significant challenges to the customers, to our employees, to the to the public writ large. But this is a sector that had been preparing for a challenge. I mean, you know, we prepare for for storms, we prepare for potential cyber attacks, and we prepare for pandemics. And so we were able to very quickly pivot and seek to to to meet the challenges. And you know, we did it on a cooperative and a collaborative basis. We saw pretty significant cooperation within the electricity sector here in Canada, where companies were learning from each other. The CEOs of companies all across this country were getting together on conference calls every single week for the first three months of COVID-19. Why were they doing that? Well, they were talking about what ideas people had and what things that they've been using. And really what were the most effective practices to make sure that the customer was being taken care of, and the public was being taken care of, and the the employees were being taken care of. And so we saw this massive exchange of best practices among the CEOs here within Canada. We saw it between Canada and the United States, because, you know, we're part of a shared North American electricity grid. And we saw a level of cooperation and collaboration between the electricity sector, and governments that, frankly, was surprising. We work well, in most circumstances, but you know, people really stepped up to make sure that they would, they were able to do everything that could be done to make sure that we were going to be able to continue to operate everything from, you know, assisting industry to access personal protective equipment, to helping us address issues, even as it may sound mundane, but it's a challenge sometimes, to getting people across the Canada-US border, for the purposes of maintenance. So, you know, it was a whole of industry, and really a whole of the economy approach to this. And it started right at the very top, from the the presidents of the companies constantly, you know, discussing with each other about what is the most effective practice to everybody within the companies themselves, pulling together to see how we can work as effectively as possible. And, you know, as I said earlier, the bottom line is, we kept the lights on for the customers, and we were in and we were also very sensitive to some of the challenges that they were facing. But you know, the bottom line is reliability was not impacted, and the customer was not left in the dark.
Dan Seguin 16:52
Will the electricity sector be assuming a bigger role in energy consumption through electrification, with infrastructure having to withstand increasing stresses, such as extreme weather events, and the incorporation of new loads? Is the sector creating resiliency strategies?
Francis Bradley 17:13
Resiliency is at the heart of what this sector is all about. And that's been the case, really, since the sort of the inception of the electricity sector. When we first began using electricity as a, as a as an energy form and as a commodity. It was important, but you know, initially with street lighting, it wasn't critical, and it wasn't a lifeline. It's a lifeline today, right. And so the criticality of electricity to individuals in their homes, to businesses, to services across the country. It is the critical infrastructure sector that all others depend upon. You know, if you look at the importance of all of the different infrastructures, all critical infrastructure is a is vitally important, certainly, but almost all of them cannot run if they don't have basic electricity. So how are we going to make sure that the history that we've had of resilience is maintained as we move into a future that is going to, as you say, we will have increasing stresses, we're going to have more extreme weather events. And so how do we go about that? Well, what it's going to take is it's going to take redoubling of our efforts, it means we are already building things more to higher standards, and we were previously but it means we're going to have to put significantly more investments into the system. The Conference Board of Canada estimated that, that our electricity needs in a 20 year period from 2010 to 2030, would be about $350 billion. But, you know, that was a like for like it didn't take into consideration both electrification and climate mitigation, for example. There's a new study that's been done that tries to get a handle on what kind of investments are going to be required so that we can meet those challenges. And the latest estimate is it's going to take an investment of about $1.7 trillion by 2050, to ensure that our electricity infrastructure can meet the challenges of both the electrification and climate mitigation. You know, as a result, what we see is already today, six of the top 10 infrastructure projects right now are in the electricity sector. And you know, where were that will continue well into the future that illiteracy will be key to both the the investments that are taking place in our core infrastructure. But they will be building an ever more secure and ever more reliable system into the future. But it's not easy. You know, there are challenges, there's always challenges when you're building infrastructure. There is public opposition to new infrastructure projects, and, and at times this lack of government policy certainty and predictability in terms of moving some of those projects forward. And so, you know, we're working with governments, and we're working with organizations like the Canada infrastructure bank, so that we can ensure that companies have access to the capital that's needed to replace the aging infrastructure and infrastructure that needs to be upgraded to meet those those challenges of the future.
Dan Seguin 20:52
What are some of the challenges and opportunities that sectors are seeing as it relates to the impact of climate change, adopting renewable, clean energy and moving away from fossil fuels?
Francis Bradley 21:04
Well, you know, to begin with where we're starting from is, we're starting from a place that is the envy, frankly, have a lot of other jurisdictions. compared to most other countries, our sector is already clean. So we're starting from a relatively clean sector to begin with. It's one of the cleanest electricity sectors in the world, we have the advantage of remarkably low carbon electricity grid, and it's been getting cleaner. So from 2000 to 2017, there's been a reduction in our sectors carbon dioxide, emissions of 42%. So more than 80% of the electricity in in Canada now comes from non emitting sources. And so we continue to focus on decarbonisation. The targets that I'd mentioned earlier, are going to mean that decarbonisation and further electrification are going to absolutely be required if we're going to meet our climate challenges of the future. So, you know, among those challenges that the that are out there, achieving a 90%, or greater net zero emissions in electricity in Canada? What's that going to require? Well, we have to recognize that there's regional constraints, there's technology limitations, there's system level planning that needs to be done so that we can ensure safety, we can ensure reliability, and most of all, that we can ensure affordability for Canadians. And so that's that's a big challenge. You know, Canada should continue to enable investments in clean energy. But the federal government needs to make a concerted effort to leverage the already clean energy portfolio of our sector to decarbonize other sectors of the economy. And, you know, I mentioned earlier I mentioned transportation. That's a big one. And I think that is the next one. You know, and a lot of people think that electrification is about the growth of electric vehicles, but it's going to be a lot more than that: mass transit, a heavy duty trucking, I mean, those are going to be significant into the future. But also, you know, we looked at a study by the electric power Research Institute, they noted that electrification in the US could increase their demand anywhere from 24 to 52%. We've seen studies in Canada that suggests that demand for electricity may double or even triple if we move forward and and begin to reach our 2050 targets.
Dan Seguin 23:37
This next one is a file you're quite familiar with: What are your thoughts on the industry's level of preparedness and response to cyber security threats? Does the CEA play a role in the security of this sector?
Francis Bradley 23:55
You know, I've been involved in cybersecurity issues for more than 22 years. In fact, it's been one of the most interesting files that I've worked on at CEA, I got involved in this space during y2k, which I think some of your listeners probably weren't around for but the you know, as we were heading towards towards the year 2000, we were preparing for, you know, the potential for for cyber disruptions. But that gave us as a sector, a leg up, to begin to understand, as we kind of got into the new millennium, what the future cyber challenges were going to look like. And as a sector, you know, the electricity sector really has been on the front line of this and has been leading a lot of the work with respect to cyber resilience and cybersecurity. Now that's out of necessity, you know, as the you know, as I often say, electricity is the infrastructure that every other infrastructure relies on. And so this is the one that is, is the one that must not fail. cyber attacks are real. You know, we've used to be able to say, no cyberattack has ever resulted in the loss of electricity service to a customer. We can't say that. But five years ago, there was a cyber attack in the Ukraine, that some of my colleagues in the in the electricity sector cyberspace refer to as when we cross the Rubicon, this is the first time that a cyber attack actually resulted in the loss of electricity to customers. So you know, the sector has been working incredibly hard on ensuring that we're ready for cyber threats. We work on a collaborative basis across North America, but specifically within the Canadian sector, you know, we've been organizing our members, and we've been working with federal officials, Canadian federal officials, for two decades in this space. And frankly, the the level of collaboration in the models that we've been using, have been now replicated in other sectors as well, for for both the approach to specifically to addressing and preparing for cyber threats, and the collaboration that is absolutely required between the different players, and the government. And to top it off, every two years, we do a major tabletop exercise, it's called the Grid X series of exercises. So we just finished Grid X 4 last year. And it's a North American wide exercise a tabletop exercise on security, but the core of it is a cybersecurity exercise. And so it's something that every pretty much every electricity company, across North America, thousands of companies and 10s of thousands of individuals participate in every other year on a North American basis, in addition to what the companies do themselves, so it is very much front and center for our members.
Dan Seguin 27:12
Okay, Francis, in the very near future, more and more customers will have the ability to sell and trade energy, how will this impact the traditional utility-customer relationship and the stability of the grid?
Francis Bradley 27:28
That's a relationship that's changing. Absolutely. You know, for a hundred years, the Canadian electricity companies had a very simple mandate, provide reliable and safe power to all customers keep the lights on. And that's exactly what they did. But they did it in a in a very linear manner. Electricity went from generation through transmission through distribution to the end customer went from one end to the other end. Now, the model is changing. And I know you've talked about this on a number of previous podcasts. But you know, today, utilities are expected to in addition to just making sure the lights stay on, they're expected to provide a broad range of energy services, new technology, renewable sources of energy, consumer convenience, and personalization are now the drivers have great innovation. Proactive communication capabilities are endless. You know, system outage updates are communicated via texts, linking to outages on maps, pending weather challenges are communicated via Twitter, you know, that whole, not just how electricity is produced, but, but how the companies interact with the customer is changing, and it will continue to change. And so how do we prepare for the grid demands of the future? You know, we've moved from a one size fits all electricity offering, and we're going to be moving into a future state where electricity solutions will be highly customized, to meet the diverse household, business and community needs where end-use consumers are going to be empowered to adopt a growing range of innovative energy solutions. And so that not only what is the sort of supply chain changing, and in some ways it's becoming, as it is with some of the projects of your company, Dan - transactive and two-way, but also the expectations are changing, along with this pretty significant change of of technology that is underpinning all of it. And you know, we we talk about AI: What, what role will AI have in that future transactive relationship between the electricity company and the customer? It's still, you know, an open question, and it's in the middle of pretty significant evolution as we speak,
Dan Seguin 29:49
What will be the role of distributed energy in Canada's future? And what are some of the benefits Canadians will see as we move toward distributed and sustainable energy.
Francis Bradley 30:01
So the role of distributed energy in Canada's future is a really interesting question. You know, I am sometimes asked by people, whether or not the future is going to be a distributed energy future, or the future is going to be a centralized, large generation future. And my answer is, it is going to have to be both. If you look at, you know, the the predictions of what the requirement for electricity is going to be in 2050. In a deep decarbonized future, we're going to need every kilowatt that we can get every low carbon, no carbon kilowatt that we can get. So distributed energy is going to be absolutely essential. And it's going to be a key piece of what that future is going to look like. So, you know, the most fundamental of transformations is this emergence of an ever more diverse, distributed and technology enabled electricity system that is developing, and it is happening in parallel, and it will, I believe, complement, the central generation grid that we've been used to in the future, one is not going to replace the other. But you know, what, we're seeing CEA members who are working to modernize the electricity system to enable integration of technologies that deliver customer benefits. Governments and the regulatory agencies also have a major role in fostering that innovation. And, you know, how does risk-taking in this space evolve? Well, that raises regulatory questions as well. So, you know, we're working with federal and provincial policymakers, we're working with regulators, we're looking to encourage greater receptivity to innovation-enabling investments. And, you know, based on current trends worldwide, the electricity industry expects significant growth, not just electric vehicles that I talked about, but battery storage, and distributed generation, new investments in emerging technologies, even things like just small modular reactors, which will be part and parcel of that distributed energy future are gonna make a significant difference to the delivery of energy services in the decades ahead.
Dan Seguin 32:18
As a result of extensive consultations your association has conducted, what are some of the pressing issues from your members in the electricity sector? Are you seeing any patterns?
Francis Bradley 32:29
The most pressing industry pressing issues for our members in the electricity sector? That question, of course, would be answered very differently if we spoke nine months ago. Because so much of the focus recently is on COVID-19. But, you know, one steps back one of the on ongoing themes that we hear from our members, is the need for a national strategy to guide electrification. It remains a key policy objective that we've got, we talk about electrification, but having a national vision and a national strategy is one of the things that we're hearing consistently across the sector, we need to quantify the scope and the timing of new generation requirements, we need to determine the most efficient electrification opportunities by region, we need to identify what are the required policy and investment tools. So you know, we need a strategic national strategy on electrification to move that forward. But we need regulatory alignment, you know, and there is there's a fair amount of work here. And it isn't just Canada, US, it's within Canada as well. You know, we we don't have regulatory consistency, across jurisdictions and amongst different governments. And then, you know, when speaking about the regulatory environment, it is challenging. Today already, you know, at the federal level alone, the electricity sector is affected by over 90 different regulations that are either enforced or pending. And so, you know, this is a very challenging regulatory environment within which our members operate and are attempting to roll out the infrastructure that's going to be required to meet those future needs. And then finally, you know, what, we need to encourage modernization as a result of that regulatory framework. So, you know, we're operating in a regulatory framework in most provinces, that was developed in the 1950s or 1960s. It was a regulatory model that was developed for the world where electricity went one way from generation to the end customer. And it isn't yet able to take into account and able to promote, and foster innovation, because that's not what they expected the electricity sector to do in the 1960s. But it's what we're going to have to do in the future.
Dan Seguin 34:58
The CEA conducts an annual National Survey to take a pulse of key views on the part of electricity consumers year over year, is customer satisfaction improving? What do customers want from their energy company?
Francis Bradley 35:18
That's a great question. You know, we've been conducting research on customer satisfaction and customer attitudes for more than three decades. In fact, it was the first project I worked on, when I joined CEA. So you know, the focus of the survey, it's evolved over time, but the focus continues to be on the satisfaction of the customer. So our general satisfaction: it's essentially been consistent since 2016, with nearly three and four reporting being satisfied with their, their electricity company, we're seeing this trend nationally, and it's been a slow and steady increase. In the 2019 survey, our Customer Satisfaction Index scores have improved, and perceptions on price are holding steady. And we can do a number of things in this study as well, we do something called a net promoter score, which is also another indicator, it has risen over the past two years. And the analysis shows that this is both due to an improvement in the political and economic environments, but as well also as a result of utility action. So generally, customers, what do they want? Well, they want the lights to be on, and they want their bills down. You know, those are theprincipal concerns, even as, as we've been talking about all of the changing future orientations, and all of the massive change and innovation that we're seeing in the industry, the fundamentals remain the same. And that's reliability and price for the customer. So so far, we've seen what we've seen is that customers are not keen on extras for things, you know, like new technologies, around outage communication, via text messages, and so on. They expect those things to take place, and they expect us to evolve those new technologies, not something that they think they should be necessarily paying more for.
Dan Seguin 37:14
Okay, how do we stack up to sectors like banking when it comes to innovation?
Francis Bradley 37:20
Yeah, you know, it's I think it's a challenge, that that that we see, because the environment within which we operate, it is changing, It is, you know, I think it's probably we only have mentioned banking, banking isn't a good example, because banking differs from the electricity sector in that the customer has a choice. And so, you know, how does, how does one bank differentiate itself from another and it needs to, but, you know, as we move into a world where customers, may in the future have the opportunity to increasingly self generate, and look at storage opportunities, and so on. I think that's why we're seeing more innovation on the customer side, because the sector does realize that well, you may, you may be a regulated utility, with a defined service territory, there is competition coming in the future, it just looks differently.
Dan Seguin 38:23
Francis, how do you help future proof, large utilities? Is it through collaboration and sustainable energy? Can you maybe expand on why this is important?
Francis Bradley 38:36
You know, that's, that's a kind of a cool question. So how do you future proof large utilities? I ask it a slightly different way. And that is, how do you future proof any kind of a company, it may be a little bit more challenging, the larger the company, but the challenge is still the same. Right. And that is the tendency for companies and tendency for organizations tendency for governments the tendency for, for individuals, to, you know, to be complacent, and to believe that the current reality will be the reality that you always live with. And so how do you get past that? And I think, you know, that's, I think that's the heart of your question, right? Is how do you, you know, to future proof means you need to recognize that the future is going to be different than than what today is in there for you need to look at getting ahead of the curve. And so how do you do that? Yeah, absolutely. Collaboration is a critical piece. And it's absolutely essential. But you know, one of the things that we've done at CEA is we developed something we called it the the national emerging Issues committee. We brought together from all of our member companies, the large companies, the small companies, the municipally owned ones The Crown corporations, the investor owned companies from all across the country, the individuals who had responsibility for the strategic planning and the future planning for those companies, and we brought them together and had them go through an exercise to develop a series of scenarios of what the future would look like, for our member companies. And so we really was a bit of an exercise at trying to help collectively future proof some of our member companies. And what we came out with was four possible futures of what the industry may look like by 2040. And the whole purpose of that was so that companies could try and figure out what they need to do to be able to be successful in any of those futures. Because, you know, we weren't trying to predict what the future was going to look like, but what we wanted to do was develop scenarios that our member companies, the individual companies, could stress test their plans against. And so you know, that was the whole purpose of that exercise. And, you know, yeah, yes. Why is it important to try and future proof? Well, you know, there's a lot of companies that were once incredibly successful, that didn't anticipate the future. And we want to make sure that that doesn't happen to our member companies, we don't want to be the direct film, or the Kodak, you know, of the electricity space. You know, you remember Kodak, they used to be the preeminent and predominant company in in a photographic space. But, they didn't necessarily future proof. And there's a lot of examples of companies that were incredibly successful and owned their space, but didn't anticipate what the future would look like.
Dan Seguin 41:59
The CEA has launched a national campaign to recognize July 10th as national lineworker Appreciation Day. Why was this so important for the CEA?
Francis Bradley 42:10
We didn't, unfortunately, we only do one day a year, because every single day, line workers across Canada work to keep the lights flowing to our homes, to our schools, or hospitals, our businesses. You know, these are the highly trained men and women who work on installing and maintaining their complex electricity grids across cities, across provinces across territories, they're often faced with extreme working conditions, line workers are trained to work efficiently, safely, and collaboratively to keep those lights on. In appreciation for their commitment to serve their fellow Canadians, we continue to, to recognize and to support these men and women by celebrating national line worker appreciation day every year. And you know, kind of step back and think about it after a particularly bad storm, or, you know, other other events. Sometimes I scratch my head and wonder if you know, one day is enough.
Dan Seguin 43:05
The next one might be a bit polarizing: Canadians from coast to coast to coast, pay a different price on their electricity bill, what factors determine the price Canadians pay for electricity based on the province they live in?
Francis Bradley 43:21
So the factors that determine what you pay for electricity, first and foremost, is all about what resources and natural resources are available in the jurisdiction that you're in. To begin with, that's the fundamental now there's lots of other other things that come into play, of course, but at a very basic level, it begins with, what resources do you have, where you are? And how far are you from the resources that are needed to produce electricity. You know, when you look at jurisdictions, in some of the jurisdictions in Western Canada, you know, Saskatchewan and Alberta, for example, they don't have a lot of falling water. And so they don't have the ability that other places in the country do to produce electricity through through hydro resources. So, you know, to begin with, it's first the, the resource endowment of the of the area that you're in. And so, you know, every province because it's provincially based, but every province, it has its own mix of renewable and non renewable electricity resources. And it's a combination of those, that determine what the prices of electricity as is generated. And then on top of that, you know, the, you know, we got need to build infrastructure, equipment, How far away are the lines, what is the age of the infrastructure, and so all of these things come into play. So, you know, the price of electricity is is influenced by both fixed and variable costs. The price of building transmission wires would be an example of a fixed cost, while the price of fuel used for generation is variable if you need fuel to produce your electricity, right, so that changes as well. So, you know, fundamentally access to natural resources and generation facilities determine the electricity costs alongside with population density. So, you know, in remote areas, more infrastructure is required to bring electricity to homes, businesses and communities. And so that infrastructure has to be shared among fewer customers. So that comes into play as well.
Dan Seguin 45:35
Oh, key Francis, how about we close off with rapid fire questions? Are you ready?
Francis Bradley 45:42
Rapid fire questions? Okay.
Dan Seguin 45:45
What is your favorite word?
Francis Bradley 45:47
Dan Seguin 45:49
What is the one thing you can't live without?
Francis Bradley 45:52
You're kidding. Really? Electricity!
Dan Seguin 45:55
What is something that challenges you?
Francis Bradley 45:58
Oh, every Sunday: that weekly puzzle on NPR.
Dan Seguin 46:01
If you could have one, just one superpower. What would it be?
Francis Bradley 46:06
Dan Seguin 46:08
If you could turn back the time and talk to your 18 year old self? What would you tell them?
Francis Bradley 46:13
How about relax and enjoy the ride?
Dan Seguin 46:16
What do you currently find most interesting in your sector?
Francis Bradley 46:21
Oh, that's easy. That's the really, really smart people that I get to work with that inspire me every single day.
Dan Seguin 46:28
Well, Francis, we reached the end of another episode of The ThinkEnergy podcast. Here's my last question for you. How can our listeners learn more about your association? About you? How can they better connect?
Francis Bradley 46:43
Alright, well, my podcast, which is on the future of electricity is called the Flux Capacitor. That's one way. You can reach us through our website at electricity.ca. And on Twitter, my Twitter handle is @BradBradley.
Dan Seguin 47:03
Again, thank you so much for joining me today. I hope you had a lot of fun. Cheers. Thank you for joining us today. I truly hope you enjoyed this episode of The ThinkEnergy podcast. For past episodes, make sure you visit our website hydroottawa.com/podcast. Lastly, if you found value in this podcast, be sure to subscribe.