What Works? Identifying and scaling up successful innovations in Canadian energy regulatory decision making

The University of Ottawa’s Positive Energy program uses the convening power of the university to bring together academic researchers and senior decision-makers from industry, government, Indigenous communities, local communities and environmental organizations to determine how to strengthen public confidence in energy decision-making.

Mockup of the report.

The project

Regulators’ responsibilities in energy decision-making are changing and adjusting. This collaborative project between the University of Ottawa’s Positive Energy program and Canada's Energy and Utility Regulators (CAMPUT) aims to identify innovative approaches and success factors in energy regulatory decision-making in an age of climate change for two areas:

  1. Formal two-way interaction between policymakers and regulators, focusing on mechanisms to strengthen policy and regulation while maintaining regulatory independence.

  2. Public engagement processes undertaken by regulators, including collaborative mechanisms that help to ensure diversity in information and viewpoints considered in decision-making processes and oversight.

The study

In a new research study (PDF, 5.1MB), undertaken in collaboration with CAMPUT (Canada’s Energy and Utility Regulators), Positive Energy Senior Research Associate Dr. Patricia Larkin analyzes the benefits, barriers, trade-offs, and success factors for regulatory innovation in two vital areas: relationships between policymakers and regulators, and regulators’ public engagement processes. Drawing on the research findings, she proposes a suite of questions that regulators might ask themselves as they embark on innovations within their organizations and beyond.

The survey

Positive Energy and CAMPUT surveyed 50 representatives (PDF, 1.2MB) from regulators, utilities, environmental and other non-government organizations, large and small customers, policymaking authorities, Indigenous organizations, law firms and academia from June 8-23, 2020. The results find broad agreement among respondents on the need for innovation in regulatory decision-making, both for policymaker-regulator interactions and for regulators’ public engagement practices.

The study in brief

Read the key findings and their relevance to decision-makers.
Key findings (PDF, 2.1MB)

Next steps

In the coming months, Positive Energy will develop several case studies to identify key success factors, along with roadmap and benchmarking tools to scale up successful innovations. The cases will investigate innovations in policy-regulatory relations drawing on examples across Canada, and regulators’ public engagement practices for distributed energy resources that could be applied to other topic areas.

Media coverage

What Can We Learn from Energy Regulatory Innovation? Case Studies of Formal Regulatory Agreements and Public Engagement Processes - Patricia Larkin, Energy Regulation Quarterly

Patricia Larkin on Regulatory Innovation - The Positive Energy Podcast

Collaborative Research Fosters Regulatory Excellence (PDF, 6.7MB) - Patricia Larkin, The ICER Chronicle (p.44)

What Drives Energy Regulatory Innovation? An Online Survey from Positive Energy and CAMPUT - Patricia Larkin and Brendan Frank, Energy Regulation Quarterly