In my last blog, I promised to talk about the UTC Canada meeting held in Regina, Saskatchewan, in late September. The event itself featured a compelling program with, for the first time, a panel of other critical industry representatives from trade associations in Canada. Given their deployment of private networks and similar technical and policy issues, in the U.S., UTC has attracted electric, gas, water, and rail members (and previously pipeline company members, which we will seek to attract again). In Canada, the membership has remained focused on electric utility ICT needs to date, but that might be changing based on the robust discussion I heard.
Overall, I appreciated the dialogue as well as the leadership of Geoff Trofimuk of SaskPower, who chairs UTC Canada. Geoff added a utility-only roundtable at the beginning of the conference that went very well, while at the same time providing ample opportunity for the utility reps to mingle with vendors. And, Regina is a lovely medium-sized city that was experiencing picture-perfect weather while we were there. Not that there is much time to be outside during any conference (at least in my experience), but Cheryl Stratos, long-time UTC consultant for vendor relations, Kathy Nelson of Great River Energy and UTC’s current Chair of the Board, and I had one opportunity to take a long walk down to the huge park and lake that is a source of understandable pride for Regina residents. One pic from that walk is included here.
The UTC Canada Board of Advisors also met during the conference and discussed the best way to optimize membership for Canadian utilities and perhaps attract new members (whether electric or others). We see the issues North and South of the border as almost identical, with some variability in the regulatory policy pressures and resulting strategy. Therefore, we are considering structuring the relationship to best capitalize on the similarities and differences between the two types of members (Canadian and U.S.). The fact that the electrons flowing freely North and South do not notice the border at all should be a lesson as we evaluate the next steps. More to come soon on that discussion, but we will definitely plan for, and look forward to, another excellent event (or two!) in 2018 in Canada.
The bottom line is…visit Regina in September, it is lovely!