Lighting the Way to Climate Resilience: Ambitious Goals, Tangible Results

June 22, 2022 Dawen Nozdryn-Plotnicki

In the previous articles in this series, we explored some of the common challenges electrical and gas utilities across the energy sector are facing, from increasingly frequent extreme weather events to the urgent need for grid modernization and enhanced interconnectivity. Copperleaf’s clients are meeting these challenges by redefining their concept of value for effective long-term planning supported by consistent day-to-day decision-making.

Today, we are sharing how some of our clients are developing investment plans that deliver on near- and long-term climate objectives, while continuing to meet regulator, investor, and customer demands.

National Grid: Transformation at Scale

National Grid is one of the world’s largest publicly listed utilities focused on transmission and distribution of electricity and gas. Tackling climate change and enabling the energy transition is at the core of National Grid’s mission. In 2017, the company adopted the Copperleaf Decision Analytics Solution to support its ambitious targets.  

National Grid’s Responsible Business Charter lays out the company’s commitment to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. In the US, National Grid’s plan to achieve this goal is focused on 10 key areas, including interconnecting large-scale renewables with a 21st century grid, enabling and optimizing distributed generation, and advancing clean transportation. 

All of these efforts directly support National Grid’s sustainability strategy, but deciding when and where to invest in each area is a complex challenge. This is the problem Copperleaf helps to solve. Copperleaf ensures that National Grid’s day-to-day decisions are aligned with its long-term sustainability strategy. As a result, National Grid can confidently prioritize and justify the value of executing projects that provide environmental and community benefits, while providing safe, reliable, and affordable service to its customers. 

As for optimizing the delivery of reliable, safe, and affordable energy, making the right decisions at the right time is paramount. It’s why we invested in Copperleaf, whose software can run complex what-if analyses to help ensure that when we replace or refurbish equipment, we spend our money wisely, minimize grid downtime, and keep our operations as safe as possible.

LISA LAMBERT

Chief Technology & Innovation Officer, National Grid and Founder & President, National Grid Partners

National Grid uses Copperleaf to quantify the comparative value of dissimilar investments on a common scale—from installation of electric vehicle charging stations, to replacement of greenhouse gas (GHG) emitting breakers and switches, to installation and connection of distributed solar power generation in its network—enabling the company to execute the right projects at the right time for the fastest and safest progress on the road to net zero. 

Alectra Utilities: Changing the Decision-making DNA

Serving 1.1 million customers over 2,000 square miles in southern Ontario, Alectra Utilities is the largest municipally-owned utility in the province and the second largest in North America. Like National Grid, Alectra is aggressively pursuing 2050 net-zero goals, and has relied on Copperleaf since 2014 to embed climate resilience considerations across its business—making sustainability as ubiquitous and central to its operations as safety, affordability, and reliability.

…safety for most of us has been ingrained in our DNA. Everything from our procurement to our designs, to our processes for construction, safety has been at the core of those things. We see sustainability in a similar light. We see sustainability as something that we think about through all of the stages of our practices.

TOM WASIK

Vice President, Asset Management, Alectra Utilities

This kind of shift in organizational culture is no easy feat. In an industry where the useful life of infrastructure may stretch to multiple decades, Alectra leverages Copperleaf to convey the urgency of climate resilience to all stakeholders, including regulators, investors, customers, and its own employees, who are responsible for the consequential day-to-day decisions that support long-term objectives. By expanding its value framework to consider impact to environment and community, Alectra has gained insight into not only the benefits and risks associated with pursuing a specific investment, but also the lost opportunity cost if an investment isn’t pursued. 

With this perspective, Alectra is already delivering results. Last year, the organization was recognized by ClimateWise for surpassing its GHG reduction target, decreasing emissions by 23% from its 2016 baseline, and demonstrating progress toward its goal of a 38% decrease by 2025. But the road to net zero is not a straight line, and utilities like Alectra must make difficult decisions every day to optimize (and re-optimize) plans to cope with unforeseen weather events and other changing circumstances. As Alectra navigates this vital journey, Copperleaf’s value framework is helping light the way—by mapping out where and when to invest in order to continue providing safe, reliable, and innovative energy solutions to the families and businesses it serves.  

To learn how your organization can leverage Copperleaf’s decision analytics solutions to optimize capital planning and deliver on climate resilience objectives, check out this playbook, Utility Capital Investment Planning: Reach Beyond Reliability to Climate Resilience.

 

 

About the Author

Dawen Nozdryn-Plotnicki

Dawen is Copperleaf's Managing Director, Americas. She has expertise in building high-performing teams and creating products that put the power of data science into the hands of non-data geeks. Together with her management consulting and computer science background, her focus has always been on bridging technology with business needs to deliver tangible results to clients.

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