House of Commons Standing Committee on Natural Resources
Published on: August 22, 2018
President and CEO
Address to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Natural Resources
Thank you for the opportunity to address the House of Commons Standing Committee on Natural Resources on the concern regarding energy data in Canada. I will start my remarks with my recommendation that Canada establish an independent energy data agency using a similar governance model to that used with the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
We have been here before. Numerous organizations in the energy sector have noted the need for an independent energy data centre for decades. More recently we have seen concerns raised about the lack of such an agency. In 2012, Michal Moore from the University of Calgary published a proposal to create a Pan-Canadian Energy Information Organization. Also, that year we had a glaring headline from a Financial Post journalist Jameson Berkow “Finding information about the Canadian Energy Industry is easy – if you go the U.S.” In addition, that same year the Senate Standing Committee on Energy & Environment stated, “It’s time for a Canadian Energy Information Agency.”
In 2015, the Canadian Energy Strategy agreed to by all the provinces included Goal 3.1 to “Improve (the) quality of energy data across Canada.” That lead to a discussion between the Deputy Minister of Alberta Energy at the time, Grant Sprague, the Assistant Deputy Minister Energy at NRCan, Jay Khosla and me. We agreed it was important to reach out to stakeholders across the country to see what they want regarding energy data and the status of data in Canada.
During that time, CERI produced an assessment of the data challenges we face in Canada. They include:
- Lack of data
- Only 38% of 189 potential indicators are gathered. We lack information on emerging technologies and new energy service
- Incoherent data
- For example, we found at least ten different definitions for GHG emissions.
- Inconsistent data
- Out of 26 indicators assessed from various sources, 42% differed in value by more than 10%, so it is difficult to determine which source is correct.
- Data lacking credibility
- A CERI survey found different levels of trust by stakeholders regarding organizations that produce data or analysis. The percentage of trust varied as follows: Government agencies – 67%, Governments – 17%, Economic Experts and Academia – 50%, Industry associations – 42%
- Data gaps
- To generate a complete set of data requires review of up to 20 sources of major and minor publications which are beyond the resources and expertise of most stakeholders.
- Data not timely
- 61% of data available after one year which means trends in the data are difficult to produce as well as seeing where we are at any one time.
The full data gap analysis report is provided to the Committee as Background Document A.
CERI, the Ivey Foundation and the Trottier Foundation worked together to gather interested people from across the country to discuss what needs to be done. In 2017, after two years of discussion, we came to some clear determinations of what was needed, but no one at the time was willing to put funding toward achieving an energy information organization. The stakeholders were unanimous in their support for an independent and neutral agency with some analytical services. I have brought a summary of the overall discussions as Background Document B for the Committee. CERI worked to reinforce our understanding of stakeholders by conducting a survey regarding the need for an energy information organization. The results of that study are included as Background Document C.
To crystalize our thinking on this matter, CERI developed a business case for stakeholders to reference. The full document is attached as Background Document D. However, the main responsibilities of an energy information organization would be:
Management – the use of artificial intelligence tools
clearing and quality assurance
- Data reconciliation and harmonization
- Ensuring relevance and timeliness
- Data gap analysis and filling in gaps
Analysis and Reports
• - Past: Analysis of historical
developments and trends
- Current: Market monitoring and assessment
- Future: Scenario analysis unfettered by existing policy
- Ensuring unrestricted access to information
- Sharing information across organizations in Canada
Key to the success of such an organization is an open platform for sharing data. Many organizations and governments in Canada gather data. We should leverage these activities and the value they create by forming a collaboration amongst the parties. This can build trust for the data being gathered and promote the use of this information as a source for evidence-based decisions by governments, industry, indigenous groups, and environmental organizations.
This country is in the midst of a transition to lower carbon energy systems. Important decisions are being made which will affect the lives and businesses of us all. Without a comprehensive and credible set of data that we all recognize, those decisions and that transition will be more challenging.