Commentary: A Bright Energy Future for Greater Saint John

We have so much to be proud of in our region. But if you have been reading the headlines lately, you would know there’s also been plenty of discussion about what the Saint John region and New Brunswick need to do to fuel economic growth.

From economists and academics to business leaders and politicians, the general theme is the need for more private industry and more jobs. It’s easy to get lost and focus on the work that needs to be done, rather than the work that’s already happening.

One of our region’s best assets is one we one don’t even think about until we ip a switch or when we open a power bill. However, these days we’ve been hearing a lot about Saint John Energy. Our little utility on the west side is creating quite the stir with ambitious plans for our energy future.

Saint John Energy has been a Saint John Region Chamber member almost since its inception. Its entrepreneurial spirit was alive then, as it is now. It’s an organization we can see as a model for its collaborative approach and “get ‘er done” attitude.

In recent announcements, we’ve heard how Saint John Energy has attracted Montreal-based leader in SmartGrid technologies, CaSA, to set up shop in Saint John, as well as partnerships with T4G and OSI, to name a few.

We’ve also heard that wind energy expert Natural Forces is working to build Saint John’s rst wind energy project and will invest up to $60 million and create 100 construction jobs.

Plus, Saint John Energy will be partnering with innovative energy giant Tesla to build one of the largest utility scale battery storage systems in Atlantic Canada.

With every new Saint John Energy announcement I’ve attended this year, I get more excited about this new direction and what it could mean for our region and province. We have an organization in our midst that is leading the charge on renewables and advanced energy technologies.

They are creating opportunities to develop new knowledge and expertise. They are working to diversify our electricity mix by providing more local, renewable energy at stable rates. They are attracting new people and new businesses. And they’re doing it all right here, in our community.

Just as we have so much to be proud of, it’s also up to us to rally around the businesses that are working. To support them. To celebrate them. And to ensure they have the environment and the conditions to succeed.

This goes for our businesses big and small, and the organizations that are raising the bar on how we think about our future and what is possible.

We have a long tradition of fostering a strong entrepreneurial spirit. It’s what helped us grow into the thriving and vibrant region we enjoy today, and what will carry us into an even brighter future. It’s the kind of spirit that’s alive and well in companies like Saint John Energy.

I’ve always been of the mindset that if we focus on the positive – our best assets – and work to make them better, we will create an environment for our strengths to ourish and naturally crowd out our challenges. Although confronting our challenges head-on is a necessary task, I believe the majority of our efforts need to focus on amplifying what is working.

Saint John Energy is already working on a long-term sustainability and growth plan for the utility and our region. They are working with the city and the province to reduce red tape so they can do more for our residents, our businesses and our local economy.

With that in mind, I’d like to challenge us all to think a little differently. Rather than focusing on the road blocks, what if we all took a page from Saint John Energy and instead focused on how we can create new paths and opportunities to drive our region forward?

Let’s support the organizations and businesses that are getting it right. Let’s focus on what is working and make it better. Let’s stop discussing our challenges for headlines.

Let’s energize our city and our region by working to overcome our obstacles and by doing the work. And let’s do it together.