(As originally posted on LinkedIn, July 20 2017)

To Canada 150 and beyond: the role of power and utilities

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By Gerard McInnis, EY Canada’s Power & Utilities Leader

Ahead of #Canada150, we’re reflecting on what we’ve accomplished and what awaits us in the next century and a half. We’re asking ourselves the kinds of #BetterQuestions that challenge, inspire and unlock new solutions.

Q: How is your sector embracing innovation and what does it mean for Canada?

A: For the last 125 years, power was generated by large central systems and sent out to the customer. But that’s changing due to digital technologies and global pressures for cleaner and greener sources of energy. On top of that we now have decentralized grids and two-way grids where individuals are able to generate power and send it back.

We’re also seeing individuals measuring how they’re using power in their lives by tapping into data. Consumers want to know how to use power more efficiently. Power and utility companies need to face the challenges and embrace the digital grid by enabling new technologies, like blockchain, robotic automated processes and enhanced data analytics.

Q: What role does entrepreneurship play in your sector?

A: Historically utility companies were large corporations sending power to people. But now, with enabling technologies there are lots of opportunities to refine and drive efficiencies. Companies are starting to look at consumer demand and monitor individual energy consumption in an effort to figure out a way to take advantage of that interest.

Any time you have disruption it calls for innovation, and innovation comes from entrepreneurs. Today there is more opportunity for innovation than ever before. The biggest opportunity is energy storage. Anyone who can solve that problem will have changed the game.

Q: How can diversity move your sector forward?

A: Traditionally utilities they have been male dominated. But as the value chain becomes more distributed and diversified so too will the resource pool.

Diversity is as important to the sector as anything else. The power and utilities sector is moving fast and different approaches to problem solving are going to be key. Those thoughts will only come by way of a diverse workforce.

Innovation, entrepreneurship and diversity are vital to Canada’s future success. Those who seize the opportunities that arise from disruption in every sector are poised to lead in the years ahead. What does the future hold for your business and how do you plan to get there?

The views reflected in this article are the views of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the global EY organization or its member firms.