The Distributor – One Safe Prediction: The Future Will Be Distributed, Digital and Dynamic

Ask the Expert: Ameresco Canada Inc.
One Safe Prediction: The Future Will Be Distributed, Digital and Dynamic

Isn’t it ironic that 2020 is synonymous with perfect vision? Who could have predicted the massive changes this year brought to our personal and professional lives? Certainly not me. I agree with Peter Drucker that trying to predict the future is “like trying to drive down a country road at night with no lights while looking out the back window.” Yet I am quite sure that as we look forward to 2021, we will continue to see climate concerns and capital markets drive the transformation of the energy industry.

Ontario’s electricity sector will continue to innovate at a dramatic pace because of the imperatives to dramatically reduce carbon and electrify the transportation sector, along with rapid technological transformations, tectonic socioeconomic shifts caused by pandemics and workforce changes, and the integration of climate risk into financial decisions. And there will be winners and losers. The local distribution companies (LDCs) that will thrive will be those that are the most resilient. We believe that helping electric utilities adjust to the challenge lies in the investment in three key resiliency strategies.

1. Support large customers by strategically deploying distributed generation projects
The cost and capabilities of distributed energy resources (DERs) are improving at a rapid pace. Intelligent DERs can deliver services to local area feeders, providing LDCs with a new, more efficient way to operate distribution systems. Developing DERs in industrial parks, downtown cores and near other large consumers provides energy security, resiliency and emission reductions. Ameresco has developed and implemented complex DER solutions that solve an array of challenges for our customers. These projects include a solar farm with the New Hampshire Electric Cooperative (NHEC), a landfill gas site for the BMW Manufacturing facility in South Carolina, plus battery storage and microgrids deployed at several military bases.

LDCs have a major role to play in the DER future, but doing it alone is likely to raise the ire of the regulators and other stakeholders. Some LDCs may decide to use their affiliates to build out these projects, whereas others will look to partner with experienced firms like Ameresco to focus on their core business.

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The Distributor | Fall 2020
By: Jim Fonger, Vice President – Asset & Advanced Technology Development, Ameresco, Inc.