Three Innovative Companies Fight Back With New Ideas

Energy technology innovation is the path to a strong economic and social future for utilities.
Published: Fri 15 May 2015

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Adopting innovative energy technologies is key for utilities in a transforming energy system, says Ron Dizy, managing director of the Advanced Energy Centre at MaRS Discovery District in Toronto, Canada.

In an Engerati webinar, Dizy explained that barriers to adopting innovation and instituting change are shared globally. To overcome these barriers, solution providers must integrate three vectors to change: policy, solutions and capacity. Says Dizy: “One needs to get the policy right, build the underlying solutions and ensure there is the capacity to adopt it.” [Engerati-From Utility to Energy Services Company – Fighting Back with New Ideas]

The Advanced Energy Centre is a public-private partnership with the Ontario Ministry of Energy, MaRS Discovery District, Capgemini and Siemens as founding partners. Its focus is fostering the adoption of innovative energy technologies in Canada and leveraging those successes and experiences into international markets.

Rethinking the role of the utility

In his presentation, Dizy described three examples of innovative initiatives that he believes “are doing it right”.

On Chaudière Island in Ottawa, a progressive developer is building a zero-carbon, zero-waste community in a brownfield development. In discussion around the projected role of the utility within the project, Hydro Ottawa has taken a leading role in the development process. The Advanced Energy Centre is facilitating engagement between the developer, the utility and the innovation community.

Chaudière Island demonstrates a way that we might rethink the role of the utility for brownfield development.

The utility connects with the community

The CEO of Empresas Eléctricas de Puente Alto (EEPA), a utility in a southern suburb of Santiago de Chile, is committed to the health and wellbeing of the utility personnel. That has been so successful that the utility now wants to find ways to drive these programmes out to its customers. This is leading to new approaches to billing and payment and new and compelling ways of connecting with customers.

This consumer engagement model demonstrates how utilities can re-engage and become part of the community. Despite being a smaller utility, EEPA consistently ranks in the national top 3 for Customer Service.

Smart cities to foster innovation

Ruta N, an innovation hub based in Medellín, Colombia, is engaging with the city to make smart cities a part of urban innovation. Ruta N has allocated $250 million for smart energy and smart city incentives.

Ruta N has spent than $20 million on innovation and facilitation of international companies starting in Medellín, significantly contributing to urban innovation.

“It is all about what services and other valuable things that can be provided to the customer. It’s not just about electricity, but how the electricity is bundled with other services that the customer values so you can have a bigger conversation,” said Dizy.