By:Phil Lawson Issue: Biennial of the Americas 2010 Section:The Americas Roundtables
Agility, Innovation, and Transmission
Since October, 2009, Gary Doer has been the Canadian Ambassador to the United States and was a participant on the Roundtable on Energy and Climate Change. I had the privilege of having a conversation with Doer after the roundtable.
Q: How do you communicate the intricacies of energy and environmental policy to policymakers and the general public?
A: The public is on the same page in the sense that they want cleaner air, cleaner water, affordability, and energy efficiency. It is very much part of the public agenda. It is important to recognize that there is a lot of innovation going on right now all over the world, including North America.
Agility will be very important going forward. We’ve really got to work together to get the good ideas and the innovations to the consumer in a way that is affordable and reliable. Natural gas, for example, is one of the substitute resources for coal plants — plants that are becoming dated and are being replaced with much cleaner fuel. The question is how do we get all the good ideas — new transmission, wind, solar, geo-thermal, and hydroelectric power — onto a grid?
Q: How do we get consumers to understand the issues so that they can collaborate and move forward?
A: The environmental and financial benefits of alternative energy are great, but, we need to have an honest discussion with the public about the cost of renewable energy and the lack of transmission infrastructure.
Then, I think forums like this — where you have many people from all over the Americas — to share their ideas. It involves innovation. To get this kind of group together is really, really positive. More of this we’ve got to do!