On September 26th 2022, CAMPUT announced the appointment of a new executive director. A professional accountant with broad experience in leadership, strategic direction and stakeholder relations, Jocelyn Fraser officially assumed the position on December 1st.
She comes well-qualified for what will be a challenging job. Following an early career in public accounting practice, “I was introduced to the regulatory and energy world through the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board,” she says. During nearly ten years there as Director of Risk and Financial Advisory Services, “I was focused primarily on utility regulation but volunteered extensively within the CAMPUT network including teaching at CAMPUT’s Energy Regulation Course.”
As stated on its website, CAMPUT’s mission is “to continuously improve energy and public utility regulation in Canada.”
Perhaps not a household name, CAMPUT and its predecessor organizations have long been an integral part of the evolving Canadian utilities regulation scene. They go back to the early 1960s, when members of the Canadian Association of Utility Commissioners met annually to discuss matters of common regulatory concern and interest.
As its purview expanded, in April 1976 that association was reorganized and CAMPUT was born. Formally established as an acronym for the Canadian Association of Members of Public Utility Tribunals, its objective was to promote the quality of public utility regulation in Canada by providing a forum for the exchange of information and views among its members. Founding members hosted annual general meetings in their respective jurisdictions.
CAMPUT continued to grow in size and prominence. In 2011 it adopted as its moniker just the acronym CAMPUT. Full membership eligibility was expanded to “any Canadian tribunal, board, commission or agency responsible for the economic regulation of one or more utilities in its province, territory or jurisdiction, as well as to any Canadian energy tribunal, board, commission or agency that makes binding decisions through adjudicative or quasi-judicial processes.”
“With Canada’s energy future facing reorganization and transition towards an affordable and sustainable net-zero future, regulators adopt an important new vision: balancing newly-defined environmental issues with traditional consumer protection responsibilities.”
And now CAMPUT continues its evolution taking on fresh challenges. With Canada’s energy future facing reorganization and transition towards an affordable and sustainable net-zero future, regulators adopt an important new vision: balancing newly-defined environmental issues with traditional consumer protection responsibilities.
At CAMPUT, Fraser knows these responsibilities will be challenging but she’s ready. “I was pulled back to the energy world by my wonderful network of peers,” she says. “But what enticed me was my passion for problem solving and the opportunity to support collaboration in this industry to help overcome barriers and focus on long term successful energy transition and security. Many years ago, I was described by a one of my peers as a ‘Triple A’ personality. I have always spun [that] as Authentic, Approachable and Adaptable.”
The CAMPUT 2023 conference in May 2023, added another couple of ‘A’s which aptly describe the challenges facing Fraser and the regulations industry in Canada. The conference themed Ambitious & Agile: New Regulatory Pathways for a Just Energy Transition. The program focus was summed up as, “The pace of the energy transition is accelerating, and along with other energy stakeholders, regulators need to be decisive and agile to respond to changing expectations…we challenge conventional wisdom regarding the role of energy regulators and explore bold and innovative ideas about how we can adapt and develop new pathways to a just energy transition.”
Clearly this demonstrates that the regulators’ role in Canada’s energy transition is not yet well-defined and there are important topics needing serious discussion. For example, accelerating innovation. “Innovation is often described as a critical component of the energy transition,” the program states. “Do regulators have a role in accelerating innovation? If so, what is it? (e.g. updating regulatory approach to incent utilities to innovate? advocating for legislative change? partnerships and collaboration? encouraging investments in innovations?).”
Another is necessary alliances to achieve net zero: While sector-specific greenhouse gas and renewables targets exist in many jurisdictions, “meeting Canada’s economy-wide net-zero goal by 2050 may require a level of cross-sector cooperation that could make strange bedfellows out of historical competitors.”
In tackling such new questions and issues, CAMPUT’s approach will need to be creative. “Our membership is a diverse collection of regulatory bodies with varying mandates, legislation, and regional opportunities,” says Fraser. “I need to listen and remain adaptable to support a diverse membership. That said, I do believe within our diversity we have experiences and solutions that can be used as a roadmap for how we can all improve. We really do have to be in this transition together.”
“The pace of the energy transition is accelerating, and along with other energy stakeholders, regulators need to be decisive and agile to respond to changing expectations…”
To better understand how Canada might reform utility legislation to accommodate the growing environmental obligations, in 2022 the Canadian Gas Association and Electricity Canada prepared a study called Net Zero: An International Review of Energy Delivery System Policy and Regulation for Canadian Energy Decision Makers.1 The paper included a roadmap for Canada to amend and update its utility regulatory policy and legislation.
To do that, the report found, Canada needs to create a task force with a mandate to develop concrete legislative and policy reform in light of emissions reductions towards a sustainable net zero. The force would be collaborative: convening federal, provincial, and territorial policymakers and regulators alongside Indigenous and municipal governments and organizations, industry, civil society and academic leaders.
Fraser says she’s aware of the need for collaboration. She concurs with forming a joint task force to hit the bullseye. “I recognize policy at a federal level has given us broad goals, but the energy sector is primarily regulated at regional levels,” she says. “I would love to see a roadmap of where we are and where we need to be, broken down by province/territory and industry ideally with proposed solutions and targets. Breaking down where we are struggling to advance our goals could provide insight into what barriers we need to look at and guide policy makers toward targeted solutions.”
She’s poised to start. “Necessary change is difficult even when we know exactly what we are trying to fix,” she says. “CAMPUT needs to be part of an exercise that maps out an understanding of what drives the decisions of regulators, regulated utilities, unregulated investment and other market participants across our country.”
Graham Chandler spent a decade in energy corporate finance and marketing management. As a full-time freelance writer, he has specialized in energy topics for the past 20 years.