Powering Forward–
Accelerating Clean Energy Transition in the Great Lakes Region:Summary Jan 27 Event

By Laura Asiala

Ontario Power Generation (OPG), Council of the Great Lakes Region, and 5 Lakes Energy were joined by nearly 150 leaders across the Great Lakes Region to discuss the latest findings and approaches to shifting the region to a Clean Energy Economy on January 27, 2021.

Underpinning the conversation was the most recent set of policy insights from the Council of the Great Lakes Region: Powering Forward: Accelerating the Binational Great Lakes Region’s Clean Energy Transition, published January 2021. The report includes both the demand for and the potential supply of clean power (through new technology and approaches); distributed energy resources and grid design for the 21st century; and the trend of ‘electrifying everything.’  The clean energy transition is a huge opportunity for the Great Lakes Region, not only to power future prosperity and global health, but also to protect the Great Lakes.

Heather Ferguson, OPG’s Senior Vice President Corporate Affairs, opened the dialogue overviewing OPG’s push for clean energy, including the company’s  Climate Change Plan that includes ambitious goals aimed at driving efficient, economy-wide decarbonization and economic renewal, while protecting the environment. The plan establishes two major commitments: to being a net-zero-carbon company by 2040 and to being a catalyst to help the markets where OPG operates achieve net-zero-carbon economies by 2050.

Heather Ferguson reviews OPG’s approach to accelerating a clean energy transition

Stanley “Skip” Pruss, co-founder of 5 Lakes Energy LLC, a clean energy consultancy and co-author (with Douglas Jester) of the full research report, Powering Forward: Accelerating the Bi-national Great Lakes Region’s Clean Energy Transition, overviewed the report, providing key policy insights.

Skip Pruss overviews findings from the CGLR 2021 Clean Energy Report.

The two then formed a panel, responding to question from participants who also engaged in a spirited online conversation (via Zoom chat) regarding the implications (and concerns) of various clean energy approaches, including nuclear (small modular reactors), solar, hydroelectric, and hydrogen (fuel). Both Ferguson and Pruss identified ‘electrifying everything’–especially transportation–as the next big opportunity for reducing emissions.

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Heather Ferguson, Senior Vice President, Ontario Power Generation

Heather Ferguson is Senior Vice President Corporate Affairs where she is responsible for all stakeholder outreach, government relations,

Indigenous relations, and corporate communications activities in support of OPG business goals. Heather has more than twenty years’ experience in the resource development, energy and electricity sectors, which includes OPG’s VP of New Business Ventures & Electrification, VP of Environment, and Director of the Hydro Business Development Group.

In these roles, she was instrumental in creating OPG’s electrification development group as well as assembling the company’s new nuclear team working to advance small modular nuclear reactors. As the hydro business development lead, Heather and her team successfully built northern power projects in partnership with Indigenous communities.  She also worked previously in the Calgary office of Golder Associates supporting clients from the mining and oil & gas sectors. 

Heather currently serves as a Director on the Boards of Atura Power, the Canadian Nuclear Association and the Council of Great Lakes Region.  She holds an undergraduate and Master’s degree in Science from Queen’s University, as well as an MBA from the Rotman School of Management.

Skip Pruss, Co-Founder
5 Lakes Energy LLC

Stanley “Skip” Pruss, an attorney and energy consultant, co-founded 5 Lakes Energy LLC, a clean energy consultancy.  

Prior to that Skip was the Director of the Michigan Department of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth and Michigan’s Chief Energy Officer, where he was responsible for designing and implementing Michigan’s clean energy economy diversification efforts. Skip also served as Governor Jennifer Granholm’s Special Advisor for Renewable Energy and the Environment and was a member of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Advisory Committee.

The author of numerous energy related articles, Skip has received numerous public service awards and citations including being named to the Michigan Energy Hall of Fame in 2014, Leader of the Year by the Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association, Guardian of the Great Lakes by Clean Water Action, Conservationist of the Year by Michigan United Conservation Clubs, and the recipient of the Mary C. Lawton Award for Outstanding Government Service by the American Bar Association.

Skip resides in Northport, Michigan with his wife, Brigid.

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