A number of stakeholders from government, industry and NGOs came together on February 29 2016 to discuss the possibility of developing a Canadian Energy Information Organization. There were three main questions:
1. Does Canada need a CEIO? - the general consensus was yes. Workshop participants talked about the need to have a common set of data for governments and other stakeholders to use. People noted there are numerous organizations that have a piece of the puzzle but nothing is coordinated. That means aside from die hard analysts, it will be a struggle for most decision makers to get data they can rely on. If we are going to develop our energy resources in an environmentally responsible way we need to understand the underlying situation.
2. What services should a CEIO provide? - here the participants were split. Some said that it should focus on data only. Others indicated it should include data and analysis. The argument for a CEIO to include analysis is based on the fact that data is not information and having a standard set of analysis to rely on is equally important as the data itself. The EIA in the US is a good example of this approach. I for one, favour this option. it would make the organization more valuable to decision makers and allow for a common understanding of the situation (whatever that might be).
3. Who should fund the organization? - the consensus was that it should be funded by federal and provincial governments. This surprised me a little because I would have thought such an organization was equally valuable to all stakeholders and that if it was, shouldn't those stakeholders have a hand in financially supporting the organization. It would also provide a relationship with multiple stakeholders which could help ensure the governance processes are neutral and transparent - an extremely important element of trust.
The conversation of a CEIO has been going on for a long time in Canada. Surely we can find a way, with all the funds that are being spent on analyzing energy supply and demand in this country, to coordinate some of our activities between numerous stakeholders. If an organization could be established with a budget of approximately $10 million, would that be a wise investment for the federation? I think so, how about you?