Canadian Centre for Energy Information External Advisory Committee meeting - July 30, 2020

Meeting summary: Key points and action items


Advisory member participants: Andrew Leach, Annette Hester, Allan Fogwill, Bruce Lourie, Brad Griffin, Colleen d'Entremont, Channa Perera, Louis Beaumier, Krista Nelson, Saad Sarfraz, Samantha Morton

Statistics Canada participants: Anil Arora, Daniela Ravindra, Ziad Shadid, Mary Beth Garneau, Jennifer Johnson, Rene Beaudoin, Kristin Daley

Federal observers: Jaylyn Wong (Natural Resources Canada), Nick Macaluso (Environment and Climate Change Canada), Jim Fox (Canada Energy Regulator), Josephine Mulji (Canada Energy Regulator), Karen Morton (Canada Energy Regulator)

Regrets: Ben Brunnen, Ericka Wicks, Sarah Petrevan

Address from the Chief Statistician: Anil Arora

Anil Arora, Canada's Chief Statistician, made opening remarks to the External Advisory Committee (EAC) members, discussed the importance of each member's insight and advice towards support the Canadian Centre for Energy Information (CCEI) achieve its objectives, and thanked them for their time and support in this exciting new initiative.

Terms of reference and committee roles/Deliverables

StatCan presented the responsibilities of the members, the Chairs, and the secretariat and requested any final comments on the Terms of Reference for the Committee before they are finalized.

Feedback provided by committee members

Advisors suggested that it could be useful to create a committee charter that could outline operational processes for the Committee. For example, although it is an advisory body with no decision making authority it would be helpful to know how the committee 'concludes' on advice (e.g. shared advice for consideration or consensus on subjects). There was also a discussion on appointing chair(s) before the next meeting and suggested that the group may wish to consider having more than one chair representing various aspects (regions, etc.), given the multi-stakeholder nature of the committee.

The committee members expressed the importance of trust and transparency, as well as accountability, specifically regarding advice provided by the Committee to the FPT DM Oversight Committee. The committee also indicated that it was important to track advice from the EAC and to report on actions taken from the recommendations that they provide, including reasons for not acting on specific advice. Consideration could be made to arrange to have a once a year intersection between the EAC and the FPT DM body for info sharing and trust building.

The committee appreciated the intent and goals of the CCEI and the fact that incoherent and scattered energy information is currently a problem that needs to be addressed in Canada. They reaffirmed their support for the CCEI to address a huge problem that has been around for a long time – but that this would be a long and challenging process. One advisor noted that more money would be needed to address all the data gaps and data quality issues comparing the CCEI's budget was minimal in comparison to our counterparts in the U.S..

Members felt it was important to have an in camera discussion to work out internal details, for example, how they will put positions forward and exert influence as an advisory body instead of as individuals. The Canadian Statistics Advisory Council (CSAC) representative of the Advisory Committee will also then report back to the Council in camera.

Action items

  • StatCan will work with Natural Resources Canada to identify Chairs for the EAC before the next meeting.
  • An interim in-camera committee meeting will be scheduled in late August/early September to discuss housekeeping items, including developing a committee charter.
  • StatCan will publish the Terms of Reference, members list, and meeting summaries on the StatCan and CCEI websites.
  • StatsCan committed to re-sharing the documents on committees and their members with EAC members.

Engagement and communications strategies

StatCan provided an overview of the communications and engagement strategy for the CCEI.

Feedback provided by committee members

It was recommended that we look at earned media, in particular to understand uptake of the CCEI in the regions. Communications materials could be designed to facilitate further distribution. For example, short videos could be used for VLOGS. Members were curious to know if these sorts of communication activities could be tracked.

The committee advised StatCan to ensure information is accessible on the CCEI website to serve the general public that have much less knowledge about energy data. It is crucial to provide context and a narrative for the general public as well. One tool that advisors recommended the program consider was to explore the use of short videos (i.e .youtube) as an engagement tool – particularly for 'non-traditional' data users.

Advisors were interested in knowing more about the virtual engagement sessions with stakeholders and what their role would be.

One advisor cautioned to balance the allocation of resources related to "public engagement", suggesting that about 80 percent of resources be allocated to all of the technical and management aspects of data gathering and analysis and no more than 20 percent be dedicated to communication and public engagement. CCEI will likely be used primarily by a small portion of users, as such, resources need to ensure that the core users' needs are prioritized by focus on data priorities and gaps.

Action items

  • StatCan will provide an update on communications plans and media monitoring at all future EAC meetings as a standing item.
  • StatCan will reach out to members when setting up engagement sessions and workshops to seek input on which stakeholders could contribute to the specific topic/issue.
  • Program to follow-up with Communications to explore how videos could be leveraged as additional tools to engage with the public on CCEI.

CCEI priorities

The committee supported the proposed prioritization criteria that considers the impact (stakeholder demand, policy relevance), cost (maximize past investments and partnerships), lead time (make meaningful gains over time), and feasibility.

The advisors provided feedback on priority areas ahead of the meeting which was summarized and reflected in the deck presented at the July 30th meeting. In addition, Statistics Canada provided a list of known longstanding data gaps based on input provided in advance.

Advisors advised that the list of priorities and data gaps were generally well reflected but collectively a significant list – and that prioritization and focus on areas of greatest impact/important was critical to success. Committee members recognized 'CCEI can't do it all' and that limited resources needed to be allocated in a manner that addressed areas of greatest priority.

Other key messages that emerged were the need for policy neutrality, language neutrality need to focus early efforts on foundational pieces such as data definitions and standards.

The committee raised some concerns with the way the priorities are grouped. One committee member advised against a policy-centric approach to data, highlighting that users or stakeholders may not trust the information if they do not agree with the policy. Further to this, if there is a change in Government, longevity will not be supported. There was a particular emphasis on the need for the CCEI to by Policy Neutral to ensure long-term sustainability and credibility of the program.

There also was some discussion on the choice of language used and the importance for neutral language/terms and clear definitions. For example, a committee member expressed concerns regarding the term “clean” as it could cause some challenges in perception (e.g. Clean Energy that addresses GHGs but not another environmental aspect such as water pollution may not necessarily be readily accepted as 'clean' by all stakeholders). Another member indicated that there needs to be consistency between the language we use and common usage to reach a broader audience.

One advisor suggested an approach to look at overall energy services as part of energy transition rather than by source of energy. Another member noted that, home heating comes from a variety of energy sources including wood. As such, wood should be included in GHG emissions as well but noted the difficulty in trying to track the GHG emissions of wood. Discussion and subsequent written comments from members indicated that definitions would be a continuous challenge – as committee members themselves didn't necessarily agree with how words such as 'clean' or 'decarbonization' were being used during the discussion. The committee reaffirmed the need for CCEI to focus on foundational elements such as data definitions and standards early on with all stakeholders to achieve commonly accepted terms.

Advisors indicated that if possible, it would be helpful to track First Nation participation in the supply chain for the energy sector. It would be wonderful to have access to the value First Nations are contributing to the supply chain for traditional and “clean” energy sector.

The committee noted that more information is needed to understand capacity available from both the public and private sectors. Advisors also indicated that there needs to be clear and concise information available to the public, to better understand the interconnectedness of data such as, electricity and energy use vs consumption and price.

The committee noted the usefulness of including maps and provided some concrete examples to look at. They also suggested the CCEI include comparisons to other countries. For example, it would be helpful to have comparable environmental performance metrics for Canadian production versus other countries.

As there are so many priorities, it is important to identify what pieces are foundational and which pieces should be the primary focus. A list of relative gaps would be helpful to contextualize these gaps to help see the big picture.

One advisor asked if CCEI could include data collection that helps support the Expert Panel on Sustainable Finance recommendations, in partnership with the Institute for Sustainable Finance. Some examples are: financial data on capital flows for different energy types (i.e. capital investments in oil, hydrogen, wind, gas, etc.); data on expenditures on building retrofits; and data on dollars per kwh saved in retrofit investments.

Additional comments included and insights included:

  • Ensuring quality data and comprehensive data – not just addressing gaps
  • Obtaining insights on adoption of new technology and market share of 'clean' tech (cognizant that 'clean' was not a clearly defined or agreed upon term)
  • Improved data on 'induced' jobs in the energy space – where data gaps led to double counting
  • Improved data on representation/diversity, particularly at the management, executive and Board levels where there is currently limited information
  • Electric use on a real-time basis – by leveraging existing data sets and integrating them
  • Concepts regarding co-mingling prices within and across regions for a better understanding of facts (e.g. prices in the Maritimes for consumption of electricity vs. natural gas – and linkages to the time of year)
  • Insights on price differentials – with analysis to reflect variances driven by taxes and regulatory costs.
  • A better understanding of imports into Canada for energy related products – as we tend to focus more on exports.
  • Importance to establish a common framework related to ESG that is widely accepted and tracked against – cautioning that this was a challenging subject and that development would be tricky due to policy implications and need to consult widely/broadly with various stakeholders.

Action items

  • StatCan will incorporate additional data gaps identified by committee members into the data gaps list before finalizing.
  • StatCan will present and share updated data gap list reflecting input from committee to foster a discussion related to early priority setting with the federal, provincial and territorial partners through the DM level CCEI Oversight Committee.

Conclusion and next steps

StatCan thanked the Committee members for their continued support and participation noting that this is just the beginning of an ongoing dialogue.

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