FortisBC did that by turning traditionally skeptical or adversarial stakeholder groups into supportive, strategic allies. How? By seeking their input before FortisBC filed their DSM request, rather than meeting them on the courthouse steps after litigation had begun.
“Consultation works,” he said. “Try it!”
In his talk, Colin acknowledged that FortisBC had regulator/stakeholder trust issues. Their previous DSM plan resulted in over 600 information requests and took 14 months to implement.
But FortisBC was wondering if there was a better, faster, and less costly way to go. There was! During the summer and fall of 2017, it held over 110 consultations with customers, contractors, communities, indigenous peoples, vendors and interest groups in an effort to build a more effective gas DSM portfolio.
By seeking stakeholder input at the beginning of the process, and developing a plan in collaboration with those stakeholders, FortisBC was able to cut in half the time needed to secure regulatory approval, reduce by over 40% the number of information requests, and dramatically increase its DSM spend.
In approving the FortisBC gas DSM budget, the British Columbia’s regulatory panel “supported (FortisBC Energy Inc.’s) collaboration with other parties and commended (the company) for achieving the associated cost savings.” When, Colin asked rhetorically, was the last time a regulatory panel went out of its way to recognize a company it regulates?
By consulting with their stakeholders prior to filing their gas DSM portfolio, FortisBC learned that stakeholders placed a high value on the greenhouse gas savings of the DSM plan. That helped the energy company frame the benefits of the program around GHG savings and climate change mitigation.
Four Takeaways to Protect Your Project
four key takeaways
from their gas DSM portfolio planning process:
1) Engage stakeholders early, listen to what they have to say and show them how you've implemented their feedback.
2) Listen to the Regulator and include them as an observer in the stakeholder consultation process.
3) Use an external facilitator for workshop sessions.
4) Pursue letters of support to aid the submission.
The issue of customer disruptors is particularly timely now, as energy developers have plans to
begin construction on hundreds of billions of dollars of energy projects across North America over the next five years
. These projects include nuclear power plants, oil & gas drilling projects, liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminals, gas pipelines, electric transmission & distribution projects, wind farms, solar projects and more. Delays and litigation are a perennial threat that can be reduced by proactive stakeholder outreach.