ENMAX President and CEO Gianna Manes was the speaker at Wednesday’s luncheon hosted by the Red Deer and District Chamber of Commerce at the Black Knight Inn.
She talked about the major changes that are occurring in the province’s electricity sector.
Part of that is technological, with advances in electricity storage and electric vehicles on the way. But the biggest shift has been the greater focus on the environment.
“The largest change we are incurring right now has to do with the increased emphasis on environmental regulation. Here in Alberta, we will be on a path to retire our coal plants,” she said. “We must replace that generation with something that is cleaner but also reliable and affordable.”
The Alberta Government’s Climate Leadership Plan calls for phasing out coal-fired generators by 2030 and to have roughly a third of electricity to come from renewable sources.
That time-frame is only ‘just around the corner’ for their industry, Manes said.
In her speech, Manes said the company had reduced its reliance on coal to zero per cent in 12 years.
“Our generation plants today are 86 per cent natural gas and an Alberta-leading 14 per cent wind as our renewable,” she said.
She named other policy changes that will impact the sector, including: the restructuring of the electricity market, introduction of energy efficiency programs, distributed generation and the carbon tax.
The implementation of these must be pragmatic to ensure that power is safe, reliable, affordable and increasingly sustainable, she said.
“We have got a number of investments that we are developing and preparing but we need to see the rules first. We need to understand the environment in which we’re going to invest,” she said.
Manes joined ENMAX in 2012. Prior to that, she was the senior vice-president and chief customer officer for Duke Energy, based in Charlotte, North Carolina.
She has been named CEO of the Year by Electricity Human Resources Canada, among Alberta Venture’s Top 50 Most Influential People in 2015, and one of Canada’s most Powerful Women by the Women’s Executive Network.