April 7, 2021 / By Shahrzad Simab

Climate Adaptation in the Electricity Sector

After two years of collaboration with electricity companies across Canada, the Canadian Electricity Association launches CLIMATE CHANGE & EXTREME WEATHER: A Guide to Adaptation Planning for Electricity Companies in Canada. Shahrzad Simab, Manager of Clean Energy and Climate Change at CEA tells us all about the goals and protocols of this massive undertaking and why it is imperative for Canada’s collective future.

Can you tell us how the Climate Adaptation Guide came to be with CEA and Natural Resources Canada (NRCan)?

CEA’s members have been managing climate change for many years and CEA has released several reports and guides in the past. Through those projects, we identified a need for more detailed guidance and support for these efforts. Then, in September 2017, NRCan’s Climate Change Adaptation Program sent out a ‘Call for Proposals’ for cost-shared projects that address climate change adaptation. CEA then submitted a project proposal under this program, which was later accepted by the program. In April 2018, project work began as a joint partnership between CEA and NRCan to develop a Climate Change Adaptation Guidance Document, for Canadian electricity companies to reference when developing their own company-specific climate change adaptation plans.

What did the project consist of?

The primary goal of this project was to develop a guidance document, which would provide a flexible framework to inform decisions that each electricity company will need to make in developing climate adaptation plans.

Additionally, there were a number of other project components CEA delivered including:

  • Training workshops: The intent of the workshops was to provide hands-on training and support to members on how to interpret and apply the proposed guidelines. Given the diverse geography and structure of the electricity sector in Canada, the workshops were delivered across the country to provide a regional lens.
  • Webinars: CEA also hosted two webinars; one to provide an overview of the guidance document, and another for electricity companies to share practical examples of adaptation planning and best practices.
  • FAQ sheets: Frequently asked questions were compiled, and posted along with the answers for members to access into the future.
  • Verification protocols: Along with the guidance document, a verification protocol document was also produced in order for the user to be able to determine whether or not the elements of the organization’s adaptation plan conform to standard risk management practices.

Talk to us about the development process of this guidance document?

The development of the guidance document was largely conducted through CEA’s Climate Change Adaptation Committee. Members of this Committee were involved for the full three-year duration of the project as a source of expertise, feedback, recommendations on the work our consultants had prepared.

How has the project been received by CEA’s member companies?

Canadian electricity companies generally have a very good understanding of climate change and the need for adaptation efforts to secure infrastructure and ensure Canadians continue to receive reliable and affordable electricity. As such, CEA members have been very supportive and involved in the project to ensure a robust and comprehensive guidance document is produced. In fact, a number of member companies, including Hydro One, Saint John Energy, Ontario Power Generation, Manitoba Hydro, BC Hydro, Toronto Hydro, pledged in-kind support for the project, by hosting workshops on the subject and through other services.

What was your biggest takeaway from spearheading this project?

My biggest takeaway was the clear need for climate adaptation in not only the electricity industry, but in all sectors of the economy. It will be a big lift, but the silver lining is that there exist many opportunities to start implementing climate adaptation early. For instance, the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy found that a dollar spent on adaptation today, we avoid between nine and thirty-eight dollars of future costs.

You can read the CLIMATE CHANGE & EXTREME WEATHER: A Guide to Adaptation Planning for Electricity Companies in Canada here.