When I reviewed our most recent quarterly results, the fact that we now have 8 million wireless subscribers jumped off the page and got me thinking. With 13.5 million customer connections in total, not only are there many Canadians relying on us to keep them connected, but there is also an increasing amount of energy required to maintain our networks, equipment and buildings to enable those connections.
Fortunately, we have many teams across TELUS, including the team I support, who collaborate and are focused on the reliability and efficiency of our infrastructure and energy use – including making sure the utility bills are being paid on time to ‘keep the lights on.’ Amazingly, even with the incredible growth in our subscriber base and the associated demand for bandwidth and data, we were using 0.4 per cent less energy at the end of 2013 than we were in 2010.
As we continue to grow, in order to meet our Climate Change Objectives we’ll need to overcome some challenges. These realities include the increasing cost and price volatility of our energy, particularly when it comes to electricity and natural gas. When we look to the future, it’s clear that our natural resources are limited. Fortunately, renewable energy is a viable alternative.
This month, we installed a 9 kilowatt solar energy solution at one of our plant buildings in West Edmonton that should produce nearly 14,000 kWh annually and reduce our carbon emissions by 12 tonnes per year. Although this solution will provide only about 3 per cent of the overall energy required for this building, the project gives us an opportunity to learn on a number of fronts, including:
- The availability of government and utility incentives for renewable energy solutions
- Economic impacts (cost savings, energy generation, cost to implement/maintain)
- Location (availability of solar radiation/wind, building/roof suitability)
- Suitability of technology (reliability, maintenance, administrative requirements)
This installation is the first of its kind at TELUS, and you can monitor its performance along with us (when sunny or snowing) here. Did you know that we have employed more than 20 other solar solutions at select remote wireline radio sites in B.C.? These installations range from 20W to 150W and provide energy from batteries that are charged by solar panels during the day and having the telecom load draw power from the batteries during the night or when there is poor sun coverage.
As we move forward, our teams will continue to look at suitable renewable energy solutions that will benefit our customers and our planet. Check out some of the other cool stuff we’re doing in sustainability at TELUS: