When : August 29-31, 2017
Where: Downtown Toronto
The AESP Summer Conference attracted around 500 energy professionals to Toronto from across Canada and the United States. Utilities and Local Distribution companies on both sides of the border were well represented, as were energy database companies, energy efficiency consulting firms and a few public sector organizations.
What we saw at the conference can best be summarized into three themes:
1. The emphasis on change/ Exploring new business models
As the AESP advertised through their “times they are EE-changin” sub-title for the conference, this event contained a lot of talk and exchanges on the change to come in energy markets, from the relationship between traditional utilities and their customers, through to the way energy grids will be evolving with the ascent of alternative energy and battery recharging needs.
Two main elements seem to drive the utilities’ desire to explore new business models:
i. The ongoing efforts for energy conservation that is challenging the profitability of the electricity production, transmission and distribution infrastructures.
ii. The increasing popularity of electric vehicles, a market transformation partially induced by the numerous federal and provincial policies and programs.
2. Spotlight on big data
A common link among most of the exhibitions at the conference, and indeed many of the speakers, was the theme of data collection. How to collect big data on energy consumption, and facilitating the best ways to interpret and display the data were front and centre at this conference, and likely will be for many years with some innovative American firms leading the way.
3. Opportunities for Canada-US business
In our rough estimate, we would figure that around 45% of participants were from the United States, with the rest from Canada. While the two countries share much when it comes to regulations, codes and standards of practice, aside from some solid continuing business in the natural gas industry, there remains a large opportunity to do more with our neighbours to the South. It is likely through capacity building and awareness of each other’s activities that we can begin to capitalize on these opportunities.
Overall, the conference provides great networking, and highlights how many individuals we have that are passionate advocates for energy consumption, and are always looking to learn and share more about how the energy landscape is changing.