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How LDCs can foster internal control effectiveness and risk awareness

In recent years, a spate of mergers across Canada has allowed Local Distribution Companies (LDC) to cut costs, improve service to local communities and drive operational efficiencies. To unlock the full value of a merger, however, the merging companies need to integrate their processes—and that starts by standardizing their internal controls. Without a streamlined internal controls environment, employees may struggle to understand which processes to follow, which can heighten enterprise risk—especially if key activities fall through the cracks. To mitigate these risks, LDCs may want to begin by automating their controls. In addition to reducing the errors associated with manual processes, automation typically delivers significant efficiencies, including speeding up routine processes while minimizing the unsanctioned workarounds that sometimes lead to fraud. At the same time, it’s important to recognize that this isn’t a “once and done” exercise. To keep pace in a ...

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Overcoming ‘Goldfish’ Attention Spans: For Utilities

According to a recent study done by Nielsen, it was determined that, since 2000, the attention span of humans has dropped from 12 seconds to eight seconds, putting us below the attention span of goldfish! This downward trend presents a new challenge for utilities as they aim to stay relevant and make a lasting impression on their customers – not only do we need to compete for attention in a crowded digital landscape, we need to maintain it. In the energy sector, ideas for interesting content isn’t usually the problem as there are plenty of fascinating trends emerging all the time. So, what’s the answer? How can utilities evolve to produce content that both captures and captivates their audiences? At Hydro Ottawa, we believe the answer is seeking out content mediums that build brand personality, foster two-way engagement, and tell a story. These days, consumers want to know brands are real, human and relatable. This can be achieved through a consistent style and message and through bra ...

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Scams and Fraudulent activities: Local Hydro Utilities Tell Customers What to Watch For and What To DO

Technology is great, it makes our lives easier but sometimes it can also make us vulnerable to individuals who take advantage of the information available to them. Across the province local hydro utilities are warning their customers about scammers who are trying to take advantage and extort money from both residential customers and small businesses. Residential customers and small businesses are receiving calls from people claiming to be their utility. One scam is that customers will get a call and, customers are threatened with service disconnection if they do not make an immediate payment at cryptocurrency machines, typically located inside convenience stores, cafes, or in malls. Cryptocurrency is not an accepted form of payment for local hydro utilities. Customers should not share any account information or attempt payments – they should simply hang up. Individuals posing as representatives of the utility are also contacting customers by phone and threatening to disconnect their power i ...

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Canada’s Federal Election: Notes for Ontario’s Local Hydro Utilities

The result of the October 21st Federal Election was a minority government with the Liberals winning 157 seats; Conservatives 121; Bloc Quebecois 32; New Democratic Party 24; and Green Party 3. All party platforms made significant policy commitments related to energy, environment, and climate change. In a minority government, the Liberals may work together with other parties on specific commitments to ensure support of their own initiatives. With the necessity of working with at least one other party to pass legislation, the EDA has provided a summary of the party platforms of interest to local hydro utilities in Ontario. Liberals Interest free loans for home retrofits Retrofit 1.5 million homes, over the next five years, by giving interested homeowners and landlords a free energy audit and then providing interest-free loans of up to $40,000 through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). Create a Net Zero Homes Grant of up to $5,000 to help buyers of newly built homes that are cer ...

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5 Reasons Why People Volunteer for Associations

Professional volunteers with experience and business instinct are irreplaceable. They can help you overcome challenges, including funding issues. Recruiting volunteers is one way your association can meet more of its goals in a cost-effective manner. For our blog on volunteers we asked some of our invaluable volunteers what made them want to become a volunteer and why they stick with it. “One of the reasons I participate on the Human Resources Council within the EDA is that I am passionate about coaching and mentoring, sharing and exploring opportunities within our environment.   Through this experience, I have developed strong relationships which have helped me, our organization and the Community. Volunteering brings satisfaction and is a great networking tool for career and business success.”, Jane Hale-McDonald, Chair, EDA Human Resources Council, Energy +. Volunteers come to you for different reasons. “I have always been passionate about giving back to my commu ...

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Cultural integration: The secret ingredient to merger success

Mergers can be an excellent opportunity for LDCs to reduce costs and better serve their respective communities. To succeed, however, mergers must make sense not only on paper, but from a cultural perspective as well. Culture is intangible and difficult to articulate by people who live and breathe it everyday. In a highly-regulated industry like Ontario’s energy sector, with workforces that are frequently unionized, ensuring cultural alignment between two companies is often easier said than done. Waiting for regulator approval can be a lengthy and slow-moving process—one that can put significant constraints on how and when the organizations conduct cultural assessments. In a similar vein, depending on a union’s collective agreement, it can also be difficult to bring employees together, job share or conduct employee town halls to uncover cultural concerns and put employees at ease before the merger is approved. Nevertheless, a cohesive transition hinges on a smooth cultural integrati ...

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Our Members in the Community #PowerofLocalHydro

The EDA has now launched our refreshed Power of Local Hydro Campaign to demonstrate how local hydro utilities are on the front lines of power to deliver safer, more reliable and more affordable electricity day in and day out.

Here are some recent examples of how our local hydro utility members are providing economic growth, innovation, job creation, and support for local community initiatives:

Energy+ Inc, Kitchener-Wilmot Hydro Inc., and Waterloo North Hydro Inc., teamed up with the local chapter of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) to sponsor the IBEW golf tournament, that was held in late May and raised $12,500 for MySafeWork.

In June, Kitchener Wilmot Hydro provided grants worth $1,500 to two students enrolled in the Electrical Engineering Technology and Energy Systems Technology Program at Conestoga College in Cambridge.

In August, the employees at Oshawa PUC gave back to the community where they live and work. The employees got together to have a BBQ lunch as a fundraiser for Simcoe Hall Settlements House’s 2019 Backpack Program. Employees then brought in a backpack or cash to pay for their lunch.

Just a few days ago, Enwin announced that their customers now have access to the all-new account management portal, myENWIN. This mobile tool is designed to keep their customers connected at their convenience and provide the best possible user experience when managing their ENWIN account. 

Hydro Ottawa is encouraging their customers to sign up for online billing to save time, resources and be a ‘paperless hero’ for children in their community.  For every customer who registers for online billing between now and December 31, 2019, Hydro Ottawa will donate $5 to the CHEO Foundation. We will also donate an additional $5 for every customer who registers for an automated payment plan by December 31, 2019.

In September, Lakeland Holdings paid it forward with more then $4,000 given out in one afternoon. The giving was orchestrated by local power conglomerate Lakeland Holdings, which includes Lakeland Power, Bracebridge Generation, and Lakeland Networks. The company had their team building day on Monday, with a total of 70 staff and 14 teams taking part.

Each team was given $250 to “pay it forward” in the area, heading out to give to individuals and organizations throughout the region.

In September, With the help of their customers, Essex Powerlines (EPL) will be donating $4,150 to the Fight Like Mason Foundation through its recent paperless billing campaign. The Power Up for Paperless campaign provided customers the opportunity to save paper and donate $10 to the “Fight Like Mason Foundation” simply by signing up for paperless billing.

We love all the work that our members do in their communities, whether it be to help send students to school, raise money for a good cause our help save our environment through paperless billing. Keep up the good work!

We would like to see these stories keep coming so that we may continue to highlight the work you do for your customers, cutting red tape and how you are constantly being innovative. 

Send your news stories, photos and relevant hyperlinks to: Emily Kirk, Communications Specialist.

 

 

EDA Brings A Refreshed Power of Local Hydro Message to District AGMs

  September is always a busy time for the EDA and this year was no exception. Our President and CEO, Teresa Sarkesian, EDA Chair, Gerry Smallengage and EDA staff took part in our 2019 district AGM roadshow to connect and reconnect with our members from utilities of all sizes, representing various regions across Ontario and companies that provide critical goods and services and support to the electricity sector.    Our CEO used this opportunity to launch an important refresh of the EDA’s Power of Local Hydro campaign with members. The development of this new narrative is a key part in the EDA’s broader effort to strengthen positive perceptions of our industry at Queen’s Park, to the public and utility customers across Ontario.   The Power of Local Hydro campaign will continue to demonstrate how local hydro utilities are on the front lines of power, where electricity customers can rely on their local hydro utility to deliver safer, more reliable and more ...

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This May be a Stupid Question but Why do People Attend Conferences

            There are lots of reasons to go to conferences; it is an opportunity for creativity and innovation, networking and learning, to gain confidence in your abilities and a reason to break out the office and out of your comfort zone. Highlighted below are just a few of the reasons people attend conferences. 1. To network A big reason for going to conferences is to meet with likeminded people and industry peers. Conferences bring together people from all different geographical areas who share a common discipline or field, and they are a great way to meet new people. 2. To expand your knowledge and find solutions to problems Conferences are great opportunity to learn more about your industry. For example, these could be new techniques, new types of equipment, unpublished data, creative and innovative ways of looking at solutions to problems, or potentially learn from thought-leaders that you may not have previously heard of. 3. To present ...

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Future of HR: Transforming HR in the Energy Sector

Ontario’s energy sector is a complex structure, filled with a plethora of interconnected relationships that enable energy to flow from production to consumers’ homes. The energy sector however is rapidly evolving, due to regulatory pressures and advancements in technology amongst other reasons. Results from KPMG’s Global HR survey indicates that 81% of respondents recognized the need for the workforce to be transformed within the energy sector. With this in mind, we have identified three key areas that should be at the forefront of the HR agenda:   TALENT: For the first time, corporations need to manage the presence of up to five distinct generational groups in the workforce, each with its own wants, needs, and motivators. In fact, 45% of CEOs note that hiring senior leadership that can relate to Millennials is one of their biggest priorities. WORKFORCE SHAPING: Current trends and disruptive forces such as smart metering, automation in asset data management and continuous ...

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