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Know More – Disruption and the Electricity Market

Accounts Manager, Engineered Systems-EPG, ENERFLEX and QUEST Subscriber

Jun 7, 2018

I’ve recently become a QUEST Subscriber in hopes of gaining deeper insight of the ins and outs in the electricity market in general. Particularly in the Alberta market where I live and work as an Accounts Manager representing Natural Gas fueled reciprocating Power Generation solutions.

You don’t know what you don’t know…

I’d like to believe I know most everything I need to know about the electricity market in my primary region of western Canada, particularly Alberta as it pertains to our Power-Gen solution offerings. But I don’t know what I don’t know.

Traditionally, as a vendor we have relied heavily in the Oil & Gas sector for Power-Gen sales which is a natural follow-up to gas processing and gas compression equipment in remote Exploration & Production facilities. In this environment, you live and die with the price of oil. It’s boom or bust. Fortunately for us, Electric Power-Generation takes into a wider range of market segments such as industrial power applications, commercial, agriculture, district energy, and yes, even cannabis production.

So where can one tap into a reliable source of current information about the electricity market?

Information that helps us understand trends, what drives investment, and how market “disruptors” are playing out in the sector is useful to our business. One of the things that drew us to QUEST was QUESTtalks – a series of regional networking and accelerator sessions designed to help you stay competitive in the growing Smart Energy Communities marketplace.

If you’re a QUEST subscriber and attend QUESTtalks, like I have recently, you’ll appreciate the value of these events. The folks at QUEST are highly professional and do a great job in bringing together high level industry experts who participate on panels sharing their market knowledge and addressing prevailing challenges and “disruptors” in the energy sector that run across economic, environmental, regulatory, and government lines. Look – when a CEO of a major utility attending a QUESTtalks conference points to market disruptors, I’m paying attention.

What did I take away from QUEStalks: Adaptation in Calgary?

With the changing electricity market in Alberta where price is trending up while the price of natural gas remains low, the business case for onsite power continues to improve. Whom amongst us are disruptors? Is this the uber of the Electricity market? There’s so much discussion these days about behind the fence combined heat and power (CHP) and in so many regions across Canada, the demand base is placing a lot of value on cost certainty and self-reliance.

No matter what side of the Supply & Demand coin you’re on or what segment interests you; whether its renewables, fossil fuels, hydro, or even sun-setting coal. QUESTtalks covers the entire energy spectrum and all participants have the opportunity to ask questions, share ideas, discover new innovations, network among their peers, and gather valuable information in real time.

QUESTtalks in Calgary also had representation from the Government of Alberta where they announced a new CHP Incentive Program by Energy Efficiency Alberta that offers a maximum of $1MM up-front grant to qualified projects. This was revealed at QUESTtalks nearly two weeks in advance of the official program announcement on May 1, 2018. This was valuable and well timed information that I’ve already shared with my customers who now have a choice on whether to opt in to the Carbon Competitiveness Incentive Regulation (CCIR), or simply take the Incentive up-front and opt out of the CCIR.

Knowing what you don’t know is not an easy task given the competitive nature of our business with respect to competing brands. To be sure, working at ENERFLEX / Gas Drive, two globally respected and recognized brands rich in experience and success is a good start. This is coupled with the authorized sale and distribution of GE-Jenbacher Power-Gen solutions throughout Canada. One would think we are well positioned to exploit all sorts of opportunities to provide Electricity to a dynamically fluid marketplace. Indeed, our collective brands attract the market’s attention. I say dynamically fluid because the market is in constant flux and expresses abrupt differences across provincial borders.

To be ubiquitous and possess a reasonable working knowledge across such a multitude of industry segments and successfully navigate through a diverse field of segmental dynamics that are key to advancing investment, one needs to be on the pulse. In the Alberta region for example, the capacity market for electricity is fraught with uncertainty. Many industry experts, including executives from major utilities and government seem somewhat perplexed as to how the electricity market will move forward.

Indeed, we don’t know what we don’t know. But becoming a QUEST Subscriber and attending QUESTtalks helps. If you missed the QUESTtalks in Calgary there are two more happening – QUESttalks Resilience in Halifax on June 19th and QUESTtalks: Security in Toronto in October. I would highly encourage anyone interested in the disruption in the energy sector and how we adapt to attend.

You can register and find the latest at www.questcanada.org/questalks.

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