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Emily Kirk's Articles

EDA signs MOU with NYPA

  Since extreme weather events are becoming an increasingly common occurrence, the Electricity Distributors Association (EDA) and the New York Power Authority (NYPA) have formalized arrangements for mutual assistance to restore power after outages, through the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU). With tornadoes, flooding and ice storms all causing power outages in recent years within the service territories served by our local hydro utility members the effort needed to get the lights back on quickly can sometimes be massive. Our members, and their counterparts in neighbouring states, have a long-standing practice of sending lineworkers and trucks from un-impacted areas to help. For our part at the EDA, we’re always pleased to help facilitate that. And we’re glad to formalize that commitment to mutual assistance with the NYPA through this MOU. When a utility is running full-out on restoration efforts, having some extra horsepower from outside its service territory can m ...

The Role of your Local Utility During Extreme Weather Events

Ontario’s local hydro utilities know that with climate change comes extreme weather events. Whether they are tornados, floods, or ice storms, utilities are on the front lines to deal with power outages and anxious customers. The good news is local hydro utilities put their customers first. Through any weather or disaster, they are there to make sure that customers’ don’t stay in the dark long. They are there to work with the first responders to ensure that communities are safe and have electricity. Utility crews are often among the first on the scene of a disaster. Their hard work and commitment to safety make it possible for other first responders to do their job. Utilities also play a significant role in the recovery process too. They are safeguarding basic needs, such as drinking water, by maintaining or restoring power to crucial infrastructure. There are a lot of logistics involved in a significant power outage event. For example, during the 2013 Ice Storm, decisions had to be ...

EDA Releases: “Connecting Devices: A Best Practice Guide for Standardized Distributed Energy Resource (DER) Connections”

The Electricity Distributors Association (EDA) release our latest policy paper, “Connecting Devices: A Best Practice Guide for Standardized Distributed Energy Resource (DER) Connections”. This guide is an example of member driven policy development and is intended to continue the leadership path we have taken in support for our vision on the LDC of the future. LDCs have been relying on individualized processes or the process established in the Distribution System Code that was developed to support connecting Feed-In-Tariff (FIT) and microFIT generators. As a result, customers have experienced inconsistent approaches and levels of customer care. This paper, and the adoption of its best practices, are designed to set the record straight – that when it comes to DERs, utilities are enablers, integrators, and orchestrators of the true potential of these assets. The guide proposes that LDCs holistically modernize their connection processes. It proposes that Connection Streams be devel ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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.

 

 

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