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Green energy central to Fortis Energy Exchange

Fortis president and CEO Barry Perry said he was excited to hear more from electrical utility leaders at the first Fortis Energy Exchange, a one-day industry forum held in St. John’s Wednesday.
Fortis president and CEO Barry Perry said he was excited to hear more from electrical utility leaders at the first Fortis Energy Exchange, a one-day industry forum held in St. John’s Wednesday.

The first-ever Fortis Energy Exchange, a one-day forum on supplying energy to North American consumers, included discussions about renewables and power grid security, to name two key topics.

The event was hosted by Fortis, in partnership with the Canadian Electricity Association. Fortis is headquartered in St. John’s.

“Different jurisdictions handle problems differently and one of the big issues we’re dealing with is moving to a cleaner energy environment,” president and CEO Barry Perry said when asked what might come from the event. “In Arizona we’re focused on solar generation, in parts of Canada we’re dealing with wind generation. Bringing the folks together to talk about the different sources of renewable energy is important.”

With Fortis’s reach into the U.S., Perry was asked about shifting U.S. government policy and any changes in planned moves to renewable-energy purchases. In response, he said solar for Tucson Electric Power is costing as little as $0.03 per kilowatt hour.

“I think it’s tough for even a coal plant to challenge that. Now it’s different energy — intermittent solar versus base coal energy … but Arizona is a state I think a lot of other jurisdictions could learn from,” he said, “in terms of taking an incremental approach with getting better with our energy systems, always with an eye on customer rates and making sure you don’t have any large changes in customer rates.”

Other issues discussed at the forum include cyber security and the need to keep grids secure from hackers.

Perry said Fortis is evaluating its protections across the board, with all companies agreeing on a need to solidify protections in North America.

Asked about Nalcor Energy’s Muskrat Falls project and the costs to Newfoundland Power, the latter being a Fortis subsidiary and accounting for about three per cent of the larger business, Perry said the project’s blown budget and expected cost of power is a concern, given costs will ultimately hit ratepayers. He said Newfoundland Power is continually working to keep costs as low as possible for customers.

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