CanREA Electricity Transition Hub holds successful Summit 2023

Canadian utilities and system operators shared expertise and collaborated on key electricity issues

Nearly 100 energy systems professionals attended the first annual CanREA Electricity Transition Hub Summit, held in downtown Toronto on January 24 and 25, 2023. It was a unique occasion for Canada’s electricity utilities and system operators to discuss the challenges and opportunities related to renewable energy integration and grid-modernization projects in Canada. Expertise was also shared from around the world, including progress towards standards and best practices across North America and Europe.  

“I am very proud of our Electricity Transition Hub, as a vital new element of Canada’s energy landscape,” said Vittoria Bellissimo, President and CEO at CanREA, during her opening remarks. “The spirit of collaboration and innovation is what brings so many of us together here today, at the cutting edge of electricity transformation.”

Launched in 2022, the Hub aims to share relevant knowledge and skills with participating electricity utilities and system operators through a curated resource library known as the Electricity Transition Hub Electronic Resource (ETHER) Library, as well as through quarterly reports of the latest recommended resources, quarterly meetings and an annual Hub Summit.

In their opening remarks, both Bellissimo and Phil McKay, CanREA’s Senior Director, Technical and Utility Affairs, thanked Natural Resources Canada for its generous support. The Hub is funded by CanREA and Natural Resources Canada’s Smart Renewables and Electrification Pathways (SREPs) program. Read the funding announcement press release here.

“I have worked with wind, solar and energy storage operators and researchers for nearly a decade,” said McKay, “and it has become very clear to me how important the role of everyone in this room will be for attaining a decarbonized grid.”

Over the course of two days, attendees heard from expert speakers on a variety of topics, including renewable energy and regulatory innovation, mapping available grid integration resources, and the state of Canada’s electricity system.

CanREA was pleased to welcome Francis Bradley, President and CEO of Electricity Canada, to present an address on the state of the electricity system in Canada.

“I want to congratulate the CanREA team for getting the Electricity Transition Hub off the ground. It is a fantastic initiative,” said Bradley in his remarks. “And for me, the Hub Summit is a unique occasion to speak directly with Canada’s utilities and system operators about important topics facing the electricity industry today.”

PHOTO, from left to right: Electricity Canada’s Director of Net Zero and Electrification Jay Wilson, CanREA’s VP of Policy & Government Affairs Brandy Giannetta, CanREA’s President and CEO Vittoria Bellissimo, Electricity Canada’s President and CEO Francis Bradley, CanREA’s Senior Director of Technical & Utility Affairs Phil McKay, CanREA’s VP of Business Development Wesley Johnston, and CanREA’s Electricity Transition Hub Manager Jim Zhao. (Photo: CanREA)

Presenters hosted small workshop sessions, prioritizing open dialogue and collaboration on important issues facing the industry.

Among them was Brennan Louw, Senior Manager System and Sector Development at the Independent System Operators of Ontario (IESO), who moderated a panel on the integration of distributed energy resources and their potential to contribute to reliability, affordability and customer choice.

The IESO sent a team, including VP Carla Nell and Director Katherine Sparkes, to participate in the Hub Summit alongside Louw.

“CanREA’s Electricity Transition Hub Summit was a terrific opportunity to connect with utilities and system operators from across the country,” said Nell. “Exchanging ideas and collaborating with partners is so important as we drive and guide electricity sector evolution, while ensuring the grid is reliable, affordable and sustainable. Thanks to the CanREA team for an excellent event.”

PHOTO, from left to right: Brennan Louw, Senior Manager System and Sector Development at IESO; Katharine Sparkes, Director of Innovation, Research & Development at IESO; Brandy Giannetta, Vice-President, Policy & Government Affairs at CanREA; Carla Y. Nell, Vice-President, Corporate Relations, Stakeholder Engagement and Innovation at IESO; Vittoria Bellissimo, President and CEO at CanREA; Phil McKay, Senior Director, Technical & Utility Affairs at CanREA. (Photo: CanREA)

Natural Resources Canada delegate Bronwyn Lazowski (Senior Policy Advisor) were was on hand to lead a workshop session on national renewable energy and regulatory innovation in Canada, while Tracey Kutney (Senior Manager, Renewable and Electrical Energy) presented on the SREPs program and Eldrich Rebello (Science and Technology Advisor) led a session on NRCan’s Smart Grid Program and Innovation Funding efforts.

“I am so glad I attended the Hub Summit 2023 on behalf of NRCan. It was an excellent occasion to exchange ideas about integrating more renewable energy into Canada’s electricity system,” said Lazowski. “I presented on regulatory innovations and was thrilled with the questions and valuable discussion it engendered. The attendees were clearly engaged with this topic!”

PHOTO, from left to right: Vittoria Bellissimo, President and CEO at CanREA; Bronwyn Lazowski, Senior Policy Advisor at Natural Resources Canada; Brandy Giannetta, Vice-President, Policy & Government Affairs at CanREA; Tracey Kutney, Senior Manager, Renewable and Electrical Energy at Natural Resources Canada; and Phil McKay, Senior Director, Technical & Utility Affairs at CanREA. (Photo: CanREA) 

Organizers and attendees were pleased with the inaugural CanREA Electricity Transition Hub Summit, but none more so than CanREA’s Phil McKay, who works closely with Hub Manager Jim Zhao to meet the needs of Hub participants year-round.

“It was inspiring to see electricity utilities, system operators and other sector leaders come together to discuss how collaboration and building confidence with renewable energy can drive Canada’s transition to a net-zero electricity system,” McKay said. “I look forward to continuing our work through The Hub and keeping the conversation flowing.”

Thank you to all attendees, whose enthusiastic participation in this event demonstrated the immense value of working together to modernize Canada’s grid.

Interested in joining the CanREA Electricity Transition Hub?
Any utilities and system operators who would like more information about joining CanREA’s Electricity Transition Hub, accessing the ETHER site, attending the next Hub Summit, or any other information, are encouraged to reach out to CanREA’s Electricity Transition Hub Manager, Jim Zhao. Read more about the Hub here.