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New Ivey Energy Consortium tackles the challenges facing Canada’s energy sector

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  • Oct 15, 2014
New Ivey Energy Consortium tackles the challenges facing Canada’s energy sector

Guy Holburn introduces the panellists (L-R) Stephen Baker, President, Union Gas Limited; Siegfried Kiefer, Chief Operating Officer, Power & Utilities, ATCO Ltd. & Canadian Utilities Limited; Gordon Lambert, Executive Advisor, Sustainability and Innovation, Suncor Energy; Don MacKinnon, President, Power Workers’ Union; John McManus, Senior Advisor, Borealis Infrastructure; and Francois Poirier, President, Energy East Pipeline, TransCanada.

One of the major disparities between Canada and most other countries is Canada’s abundance of affordable and reliable energy. 

And while there are enormous opportunities for Canada to develop and share its natural resources, increasing social pressures are creating barriers.

That’s why the first order of business for the new Ivey Energy Consortium, a partnership between Ivey Business School and five industry groups, was to identify and debate the critical issues in a rapidly changing energy policy environment at an Ivey Idea Forum in Toronto on October 8.

The Energy Consortium members, ATCO Ltd., OMERS Worldwide, Power Workers’ Union, TransCanada Corporation and, Union Gas Limited, have together pledged $1.25 million over five years to support the research and outreach activities of the Ivey Energy Policy and Management Centre. The Centre’s mandate is to contribute to the national public debate on energy sector policy development. The Energy Consortium will serve as a forum for identifying and debating the critical issues.

Suncor Energy Foundation also supports Ivey through its $1.125-million investment for the Suncor Chair in Energy Policy, student scholarships, and outreach activities.

The announcements were made at the Idea Forum where six leaders from ATCO, Borealis Infrastructure, the Power Workers’ Union, Union Gas, Suncor, and TransCanada participated in an expert panel discussion called Balancing Economic and Social Pressures in Canada’s Energy Sector. Here are some of their insights on the opportunities and challenges facing Canada’s energy sector.

Stephen Baker, President, Union Gas Limited

The Challenge: Stakeholder engagement, particularly in light of the increasing number of advocacy groups.

The Message: We must educate our stakeholders and communities about the role energy plays in their lives.

“People don’t realize how many things in their daily lives come from energy – from fertilizer to the asphalt on our roads,” he said. “You see groups that are against energy development and they don’t seem to realize the connection to the products they use in their daily lives.”

Siegfried Kiefer, Chief Operating Officer, Power & Utilities, ATCO Ltd. & Canadian Utilities Limited

The Challenge: How to bring affordable, reliable, and environmentally sustainable energy to Canadians and other areas of the world in a responsible way.

The Message: Put all the facts on the table about the costs and environmental impact of energy infrastructure as well as the pressing need to increase energy exports to other countries.

“Food, water, and energy sustain a quality of life,” he said. “Travel to some of the developing countries and you’ll see the need for affordable, reliable energy. As a country, it’s our obligation to find a way to develop our resources and transport them to other parts of the world.”

Gordon Lambert, Executive Advisor, Sustainability and Innovation, Suncor Energy

The Challenge: Getting to a better place with energy.

The Message: Replace conflict with collaboration.

We need to move beyond polarization to collaborative solutions,” he said. “We’re stuck in a polarized debate about energy and market access. We aren’t going to make progress on the issues unless we can move past this debate and work together to get to a better place. We all need to figure out what we’re for and come to the table prepared to find a middle ground.”

Don MacKinnon, President, Power Workers’ Union

The Challenge: Recruiting and training workers with the skills to complete the work.

The Message: We need to have a comprehensive, long-term plan so people can make decisions in regard to recruiting and employment and the type of labour strategy they are going to need to ensure they have the resources to do the job.

“Long-term planning is important because large nuclear projects take time to develop,” he said. “Sound long-term planning is the key to success.”

John McManus, Senior Advisor, Borealis Infrastructure

The Challenge: Increasing competitiveness of the marketplace in terms of pricing of assets and future return requirements.

The Message: Consistency is needed around the world in dealing with price, reliability, and sustainability of energy.

“There’s a real mix around the world as to how energy is dealt with. If governments don’t own, they regulate,” he said. “From our observation around the world, it’s not as transparent as it could be.”

Francois Poirier, President, Energy East Pipeline, TransCanada

The Challenge: Gaining the public’s trust.

The Message: Social licence doesn’t end with regulatory approval, it lasts the life of the project.

“It can be challenging to communicate the benefits at the local level, but it’s even more challenging to reach the masses when you only have their attention for a short time,” he said. “There’s a need for extensive stakeholder relations, community relations, government relations, and aboriginal relations.”

The event was hosted by the Ivey Energy Policy and Management Centre and the panel discussion was moderated by Guy Holburn, Director of the Ivey Energy Policy and Management Centre and holder of the Suncor Chair in Energy Policy.